Online Program

Connecting the dots: An exploration of parent and teen perspectives on texting while driving

Monday, November 2, 2015

Purnima Unni, MPH, CHES, Department of Perioperative Services, Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, Nashville, TN
Dai Chung, M.D., Department of Pediatric Surgery, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN
Cristina Estrada, M.D., Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, TN
Brooks Gaut, B.S., CCLS, Department of Child Life and Expressive Therapies, Kosair Children's Hospital, Louisville, KY
Background/Purpose:  Texting while driving (TWD) is a major distraction for drivers that has emerged as a cause in nearly 25% of all car crashes. Novice and young riders are likely to be more at risk than experienced drivers. Numerous efforts from diverse stakeholders to educate young drivers of the dangers of TWD have not deterred them from avoiding this practice. This research explores perspectives of teens and parents on TWD and their views on potential strategies to curb this unsafe driving behavior among teens.

 Methods: Four focus groups of high school students and four focus groups of parents from Middle Tennessee were conducted by a professional moderator. The discussions were transcribed and common themes were identified.

 Results/Outcomes: Parents and teens lacked comprehensive understanding of laws pertaining to teen driving. However, there is a broad recognition that TWD was not allowed under the law. This did not deter them from this practice. They were also not averse to texting at stop lights. Interestingly, teens disapproved of parents’ use of cellphones while driving. Parents were aware of prevalence of TWD among teens and adults. However, they looked at TWD as a teen problem. Parents and teens identified law, technology, parental enforcement, and school as pivotal areas for behavioral change.  

Conclusions: Teens and parents admitted to TWD. Teens, unlike parents, acknowledged it as a problem. There was consensus on the need for stronger laws, relevant technology, and stricter parental enforcement.

Learning Areas:

Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Public health or related education
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Discuss perspectives of teens and parents on texting while driving. Describe viewpoints of parents and teens to bring about change in teen behavior with respect to texting while driving.

Keyword(s): Motor Vehicles, Youth

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the Pediatric Trauma Injury Prevention Manager at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt with six years of experience in this role. I have a MPH degree and I am Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES). I have presented previously in APHA conferences and other national conferences. My research has been published in leading peer-reviewed journals.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

Back to: 3100.0: Transportation Safety