Teens get a bad rap for being distracted drivers, but new evidence shows that parents are to blame for the constant communication that distracts teens when they are behind the wheel.
A new study, presented at the American Psychological Association's annual convention, found that teens drivers responded to their parents' phone calls more than their friends.
The research included surveys and interviews with 408 teen drivers ages 15-18 across 31 states and included questions about why they text or talk on the phone when driving.
53% of teens reported that their parents were the reason for calls when driving, whereas only 46% reported to be talking with friends.
"Teens told us parents really expected to keep track of them, and they are expected to answer the phone if the parent calls, Noelle LaVoie, a psychologist in Petaluma, Calif., says. "In some cases, the parent might continue to call until the teen answers."
The teen drivers said that their parents did not want them to be on the phone when driving, but also become angry when their child did not answer their calls. The study also found that newly licensed teens are aware that they shouldn't call their friends, but believe that this rule does not apply to family members.
"What we do know for sure is if parents would not call their teens while they're (kids) driving, it would reduce teen distracted driving," says LaVoie.
In another study conducted by researchers at William Jewell College in Missouri, and Old Dominion University in Virginia found that 83% of college drivers talked on the phone when driving and 79% texted.
"Younger drivers seemed overconfident in their ability to multi-task," says Keli Braitman, co-author of the study and assistant professor of psychology at William Jewell College
A 2013 U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that 11% of fatal teen car crashes are caused by distracted driving, 21% of these crashes involving cellphones.