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Researcher Warns Adults Against Distracted Driving When Teen Drivers Are Watching

By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Parents who teach their teenagers to drive might be happy to learn that a new study shows they have a huge impact on their teen drivers — that is, until they find out exactly what it is the kids are learning from them.

(Dr. Ray Bingham.  Photo provided)

(Dr. Ray Bingham. Photo provided)

“What you do is a much stronger message than what you say,” notes researcher Dr. Ray Bingham (right), who has some bad news for parents who’ve been telling their children not to drive distracted but not modeling the behavior themselves.

“What we found is that parents who reported driving distracted more often had teens who also did the same,” he tells KYW Newsradio.

And that doesn’t mean just driving while texting.  Parent distractions, as singer Taylor Swift once joked on “Saturday Night Live,” can be hazardous too.

“If you’re distracted by your sarcastic conversation with the car in front of you, that increases your risk,” Bingham, of the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute, says.  He urges parents to be aware of the behavior they model — because their teen driver is watching.

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