How “Fear of Missing Out” (FoMO) Affects Time Behind the Wheel

Many have heard the phrase coined among today’s teenagers, “Fear of Missing Out” (FoMO). While most perceive it as a harmless mantra for today’s hyper-connected youth, a study released by Liberty Mutual Insurance revealed that the pressures of this “always-on” lifestyle have manifested in potentially deadly consequences behind the wheel. According to AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, cell phone use while driving is highest among 16-24 year old drivers, and female drivers using a cell phone are more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than male drivers.

From maintaining full school and extracurricular schedules, to constant technology updates, it appears that teens are more hyper-connected and exhausted than ever. The new study found that nearly half of teens report texting more when alone in the car, most often to update their parents. Equally concerning, 56 percent of teens have fallen asleep or nearly fallen asleep at the wheel, revealing the potential risky implications “FoMO” may have on today’s young drivers and signaling an important wake-up call needed for both parents and teens.

Modeling safe phone use and encouraging teenagers to wait until they reach their destination or pull over to contact friends and family members is important. Consider using a Teen Driving Contract to encourage positive driving habits. Using an agreement and keeping it up to date as a teen driver progresses shows involvement and trust, growing their autonomy and driving abilities.