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Texting while driving: What are parents modeling?

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety “found that teens whose parents had three or more crashes on their records were 22% more likely to crash at least once, compared with teens whose parents had no crashes,” NPR reports. It also found that “children whose parents had three or more violations on their records were 38% more likely to have a violation on their own records, compared with teens whose parents had none.” There isn’t research yet on parents’ influence in the area of texting while driving, but Amanda Lenhart at Pew/Internet told NPR that teens in Pew’s focus groups would tell stories of how their parents texting-while-driving habits scared them when they were passengers. Add together any negative example that parents are setting and teens’ penchant for all-the-time texting, and you don’t get a winning combination. “In post-crash interviews [with researchers at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration], texters often can’t recall going through stop signs or traffic lights because they were so involved in looking down at their phones.” [See also this on the latest Pew study on teen texting, finding that 72% of US teens are daily texters and “Drivers don’t text.”]

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  1. My three year old daughter was nearly run down right in front of me last fall by a texting driver. It changed me but I don’t hate texting. The way I see it, that would be like hating nightfall – its coming no matter what. 72% of teens text every single day – some over 3000 times a month. The texting drivers I spoke with, including teens and truckers, all said that laws and Big Brother type software devices that “lock down” their phones would not deter them at all. They feel their civil liberties slipping away. So I built a tool called OTTER for the individual to help manage their texting on their terms.

    OTTER is a comprehensive text management system for the home, office and certainly, the highway. It has GPS based Parental Control Feature for teen drivers, a GPS Mode for adult who choose to use it and an Auto reply with unlimited customized responses. We are getting 4.5 to 5 star rating from the tech community and great response from teen groups and safety organizations. We have heard of teens using OTTER to schedule their own “texting blackout periods” so they can get some homework done without feeling disconnected from their social network. If a teen uses OTTER like this, then we think they will see the benefit of OTTER’s road safety features. We are not going to stop until change hits our roads and not just our laws. Please give us your feedback.

    Erik Wood, owner

    May 19, 2010

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