Teens Text While Driving Because of Their Parents, Survey Says

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Parents espouse the dangers of texting while driving to their kids, but a new survey has found that teens who text behind the wheel are doing so most often to update their parents.

“It’s incredibly dangerous,” said Stephen Wallace, senior advisor for policy, research and education at Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), the organization that, along with Liberty Mutual Insurance, released the new survey Tuesday.

The survey found that 55 percent of teens report texting while driving in order to update their parents, and nearly one in five believe that their parents expect a text response within one minute.

The survey, conducted through focus groups in Chicago and Washington, D.C. last year followed by a national survey of 1,622 high school juniors and seniors, found that 25 percent of the teens believe their parents expect a response within five minutes, even while they are driving.

“They expected their parents to want a message back from them almost immediately,” Bryan Delaney, SADD’s National Student of the Year, told ABC News of his peers.

When it comes to parents, however, the survey’s authors reported that 58 percent of parents say they, “do not have set expectations on teens’ response time.”

A parenting expert told ABC News that parents need to send a message to their kids, both literally and figuratively.

“Tell your kids to put their phones away while they’re driving and, most importantly, parents, lead by example,” said Ericka Souter, editor of Mom.me.

In addition to perceived parental pressure, the Liberty Mutual Insurance/SADD survey also reports that teens are texting for another reason, FOMO, or the “fear of missing out.”

Among the teens surveyed, 37 percent reported texting to confirm or coordinate event details, while 88 percent reported using phone apps while on the road and 34 percent admitted to taking their eyes off the road when an app notification popped up on their phone.

“It’s critical that parents focus on pinpointing these dangerous driving habits early on – from drowsy driving to technology use behind the wheel – and have frequent conversations with their children about what safe driving really means,” Wallace said in a statement announcing the survey’s release.