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When smartphones became a staple in our everyday life, I had been driving for awhile. My mom still told me she would yank my license faster than I could blink if I ever texted while driving. While I admit I've shamefully broken the rule more than once, I also can say I've taken my mom's phone out of her hand plenty of times when she was behind the wheel.

While the main concern of parents is their children's safety, with mobile phones in everyone's hands, the parental moral high ground is becoming increasingly unsteady.

A new study conducted by Liberty Mutual Insurance revealed that 37 percent of parents use apps or text while driving, and slack on punishing their teens who do the same--since the study found that 38 percent of teens drive distracted.

SEE: Anti-distracted driving app helps Canadian man get out of ticket

According to the study, the parents not enforcing rules of no smartphones while driving say they don't because it's an inconvenience.

"Testing boundaries is normal teenage behavior, but if a rule is broken, it's imperative for parents to follow through and enforce the consequence so the teen will change their behavior in the future and in turn help keep themselves and others safe on the road," said Dr. Gene Beresin, a Liberty Mutual consultant and executive director of The Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds at Massachusetts General Hospital.

From the beginning of a child's life, their parent is a source of learning what is right and wrong. Kids are impressionable and just because they reach their teens years, doesn't mean they stop watching and imitating their parents.

Teens are starting to take their parents to task, though. The survey results showed fewer parents are admitting to distracted driving behaviors than teens reporting witnessing it. Parents top teens in almost every area of dangerous driving, like multitasking, driving tired, checking their phones, texting or speeding 10 miles over the limit, according to the insurance company.

The Law Office of Melinda J. Helbock A.P.C. updated texting and driving statistics showing more than 3,000 people died and almost 400,000 were injured in car accidents because of distracted driving behaviors.

Helbock's office says the texting alternatives, like voice-to-text, are not much safer because they still require using your hands to send it. Better alternatives would be an auto responder-- some cars connect with Bluetooth and send out an automatic text if the user is driving. Text blockers are also available. The program disables text messaging if the vehicle is going over 10 miles per hour.

Liberty Mutual details a few ways parents can encourage safe driving behaviors in their children in the study. Parents must set rules and enforce them. Employ a reward system if your kids sticks to the rules. Take away privileges if they don't.

An accident can equally happen to a distracted driver whether they're 16 or 60. The insurance company found a frequent justification for parents is more experience than their children, but parents have to set the example for kids.

Most importantly, the study recommended that talking to your kids about safe driving before they get behind the wheel can make a big difference.

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Takeaways

  1. A study conducted by Liberty Mutual Insurance Company found that parents text and drive as much as teens--despite telling their kids not to.
  2. With accidents caused by distracted driving in the thousands, the insurance company encourages parents to set a better example.

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Shelby is an Associate Writer for Download.com.