Protect your teen behind the wheel - lead by example

According to a new study by AAA, teenagers are far more likely to die behind the wheel when they have peers in the car.

According to a new study by AAA, teenagers are far more likely to die behind the wheel when they have peers in the car. The risk of a fatal wreck doubled with two passengers under 21 and tripled with three or more teen passengers.

Perhaps even more dangerous are high tech distractions behind the wheel. It's no secret that using a cell phone while driving increases your risk of a crash.

"It doesn't matter how you're texting. The point is you're distractible. And cell phone placement doesn't matter. We have this misconception that if we put the cell phone upright and we can see the road that we're less distractible, and that's just not the case," Child Psychologist Dr. Joe Austerman with the Cleveland Clinic said. "Whether we're hiding the phone, whether we're trying to look at it straight on, it's distracting and it can be dangerous and deadly."

Two new studies weighed in on just how dangerous the practice can be when teenagers are behind the wheel--especially when they're texting.

One study looked at text-messaging while driving. University of Oklahoma researchers wanted to know if banning the practice might actually lead to more crashes because teen drivers will try to text and conceal the phone at the same time. Results show teens consistently drive worse when texting, regardless of whether the phone was hidden.

A second study found that even thinking about future cell phone calls and text messages may be an additional source of distraction and contribute to crashes. Teenagers were taking their eyes off the road to check for text messages and missed calls. Researchers say it's imperative to limit distractions for teen drivers. Dr. Austerman says parents need to proactive now, to keep kids safe later on. It's all about leading by example.

"As a parent, you should not be texting, you should not be on the cell phone, lead by example. It becomes very detrimental if you're telling your children NOT to text, but they see you doing it. And when I say text I don't mean just sending out messages, I mean looking at your cell phone, when you take your eyes off the road," Dr. Austerman, said.

Here's an interesting fact, the average teen sends about 60 texts a day. Older teenaged girls tend to send and receive about 100 per day.