Why do teens continue to drive while distracted?

Car accidents happen for many reasons, but for teen drivers one of the main triggers is distracted driving. Specifically, using their cellphone while behind the wheel. Despite study after study explaining how dangerous this behavior is, too many drivers of all ages continue to do it — especially teens.

In a survey conducted by the CDC and discussed in The Philadelphia Inquirer, nearly 45 percent of teens admitted texting and driving at least once over the past 30 days. If anything, this is a conservative figure. The Inquirer reports that similar studies of 16- and 17-year-old drivers have revealed that most reported talking on the phone while driving.

A pair of professors at Penn recently published a study on the problem of teenage distracted drivers. They interviewed 30 teenagers aged 16 to 18. Virtually all of the subjects knew that distracted driving is dangerous, but many of them admitted doing it anyway.

Several of them rationalized this by saying they only texted while waiting at a red light and never while driving on the highway. This suggests that teens are not getting the message that texting and driving can cause a serious crash in any situation. The authors of the study suggest that parents make these justifications a starting point for a discussion on the dangers of distracted driving.