In 2018, distracted driving was a factor in 9% of all motor vehicle fatalities involving teens. This is not to say that all the teens who died were drivers becoming distracted. Some may have been passengers of a distracted driver or drivers who had a collision with a distracted driver.
A survey of youth risk behaviors by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention uncovered some disturbing information about the risks of distracted driving for teens.
Teens are more distractable than any other driver age group
In fatal crashes in which distraction was a factor, the percentage of distracted teens was 8%. This was greater than the percentage of distracted drivers in any other age group and twice as much as the percentage of distracted drivers from ages 50 to 69.
Cellphone use while driving increases as teens get older
The percentage of 15-year-old drivers who text or email while driving was 16% in 2019. In 16-year-old drivers, that figure nearly doubled to 31%. In teens age 18 and older, the figure nearly doubled again to 60%. The increase may be due to overconfidence in driving ability from more practice and experience.
Teens who use cell phones while driving engage in other risky behaviors behind the wheel
Teens who used a cellphone while driving also admitted to other behaviors that could contribute to car crash fatalities, such as not wearing a seat belt and driving after drinking alcohol or riding with a driver who had been drinking.
Parents may influence teens’ driving behavior by setting consequences for distracted driving and avoiding driving behaviors that they do not want their teens to imitate.