Well, this is frankly *terrifying* news: over half of parents were distracted by their mobile phones while teaching their teen how to drive.
According to a new survey State Farm released this week, 53% of parents admit to being distracted by their mobile phones while they were supposed to be focusing on teaching their children how to properly operate a motor vehicle. And those are just the parents who ‘fessed up . According to the kids, it could be a lot worse: 61% of teens surveyed said their parents have become distracted by a mobile phone or other electronic device at least once while in the car teaching the teen how to drive.
Have these people never played sports!? Whatever you do at practice on Monday is what you’ll do during the game on Sunday. Meaning, if you teach a teenager it’s ok to be distracted by your cell phone when you’re supposed to be focusing on a much more important (and dangerous) task, is it any surprise if that novice driver, once allowed out on his or her own, does exactly the same thing? No, no it absolutely is not.
And these are not just infrequent or emergency distractions – many of these parents are apparently chronically distracted passenger-seat drivers. 29% of teens say their parent has been distracted during driving lessons “some, often or all of the time.” Almost one in five (17%) parents will admit it happens that frequently.
State Farm calls the findings “troublesome.” No kidding. Says Vice President – Strategic Resources Laurette Stiles, ““Parents should know that how they handle themselves behind the wheel creates a powerful example for their teens – for better or worse…Being distracted even once while teaching not only sends the wrong message, it creates real dangers for those inside and outside the vehicle.”
Specifically – if instead of coaching your novice driver to anticipate problems, you’re facedown in your work email, what are you going to do when that pick-up truck jumps the light and your kid doesn’t see it coming? Be totally surprised when you’re in a collision – that you could have prevented – with your child in the car.
USA Today has a great example of why these statistics are so problematic:
“Marcie Taphorn, 35, of Greenfield, Ind., says she sometimes uses her cellphone while teaching her daughter, Hannah, 17, to drive. Taphorn says she feels comfortable doing so because they live in a rural area with sparse traffic, she uses a hands-free phone and she talks only when her younger children call from home.
The rules are different for Hannah. ‘She’s not allowed to use it while driving,’ Taphorn says. ‘I want her to keep it in her purse.’
“It’s ok for me, but not for you.” “It’s ok that I’m distracted, because nothing bad will happen!” Where have I heard those rationalizations of distracted driving before? Oh, yeah: here and here.
I’ll just leave this here:
“The best inheritance a parent can give his children is a few minutes of his time each day.” – Orlando Battista