This study was conducted to gauge perceptions of teen drivers towards risky behaviour and to inform best practices to use for future interventions. A total of 30 participants aged 16 to 18 years old took part in this focus group study in the United States. The discussion guide consisted of open-ended questions and probes to examine perceptions of distraction and cell phone use while driving among participants.
Results indicated that there are three major themes related to distracted driving. These themes were (1) recognizing the danger but still engaging; (2) considering context; and (3) formulating safer behaviors that might reduce risk. Many participants stated that while they understood the dangers of distracted driving, they had observed many of their friends engage in distracted driving and, as they had not observed any consequences, chose to do it themselves. In terms on context, participants stated that the context of the situation determined whether they would place or answer a call, or read or write a text message. The context was influenced by the relationship to the other person engaged in the call, text or app use; the purpose of communication; and external factors like weather, road familiarity and traffic patterns. As for formulating safer behaviors that might reduce risk, participants indicated that while driving they should turn off their cell phones, put them out of reach (i.e., in the back seat), or put them on vibrate or silent.
McDonald, C. C., & Sommers, M. S. (2015). Teen drivers’ perceptions of inattention and cell phone use while driving. Traffic injury prevention, 16(sup2), S52-S58.