Teen Drivers Copy Parent's Driving Habits
school and middle school students overwhelmingly say their
parents are or will be the biggest influence on how they
drive, but the practices many teens say they are emulating
represent some of the most risky driving behaviors, according
to the 2004 Liberty Mutual-SADD Teen Driving Study.
60 percent of high school students say their parents are
the biggest influence on their driving, and 69 percent of
middle school students say parents will be the biggest influence
when they do drive," said Liberty Mutual Executive
Vice President Paul Condrin. "So when we engage in
unsafe driving behaviors, it's no wonder they are inheriting
our bad habits behind the wheel."
two-thirds (62 percent) of high school teens surveyed by
Liberty Mutual and SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions)
say their parents talk on a cell phone while driving. Almost
half, 48 percent, say their parents speed, and 31 percent
say their parents don't wear a safety belt.
surprisingly, given the survey's finding that many young
drivers are influenced by their parents driving habits,
teens say they now follow, or expect to follow, these same
practices in roughly the same percentages when they become
is critically important that parents set the example they
wish their children to follow. Parents should not be afraid
to establish expectations for their young drivers, discuss
those expectations frequently, and ensure they are being
met," said Stephen Wallace, SADD chairman and CEO.
"Five years of Liberty Mutual and SADD research repeatedly
shows that teens who have regular communication with their
parents about expected behaviors are less likely to make
influence on teen drivers may help explain a clear disconnect
between how teens view themselves as drivers and their actual
driving habits. Nearly nine out of 10 teens (89 percent)
describe themselves as safe drivers. Yet many engage in
risky behaviors that often lead to crashes, including speeding,
neglecting to use safety belts, and talking on a cell phone.
What's more, many teens don't view these behaviors as dangerous,
again suggesting that they believe they are safe because
their parents drive the same way:
inability among teens to appreciate how unsafe their common
driving behaviors are is alarming, yet not surprising, given
the fact that parents and other influencing adults exhibit
the same dangerous habits," said Kathryn Swanson, Governors Highway Safety Association chair. "The Liberty
Mutual/SADD report reminds all parents that we need to be
diligent in both telling and showing our children the safest
way to drive."
Government and institutional data reveal why it is critically
important that projects like the 2004 Liberty Mutual/SADD
Teen Driving Study continue to draw attention to poor driving
habits in the U.S.:
- According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety,
speeding is a factor in 31 percent of all fatal crashes,
killing an average of 1,000 Americans each month, and
the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
reports speeding is involved in 37 percent of all young
Belt Use — Nearly four in five drivers (79 percent) in
the U.S. wore their safety belts in 2003, according to
NHTSA, yet safety belt use was only 60 percent in vehicle
crashes involving fatalities. NHTSA estimates safety belt
use by drivers and occupants saved more than 14,000 lives
Phone Use — While cell phone use as a cause of distracted
driving-related accidents is not extensive, NHTSA says
drivers in a self-reported study estimated nearly 300,000
crashes from the years 1998 to 2002 were the result of cell phone use.
Liberty Mutual and SADD make available several parent-teen
communication tools to help teens make good decisions about
their driving behaviors. Call 1-800-4-LIBERTY for the free
video, "Avoiding Collisions: How to Survive the Teenage
Driving Years;" and visit www.libertymutualinsurance.com
for more information about how to keep teens safe on the
road. SADD's Contract for Life and Opening Life-Saving Lines
brochures and the SADD/Liberty Mutual Family Communications
Tips brochure are available at www.sadd.org.
The Liberty Mutual/SADD Teen Driving Study is a subset of
their annual "Teens Today" project - a program
that studies and reports on teens' behaviors, attitudes
and decision-making about such issues as driving, drinking,
drug use, sexual activity and family/peer relationships
and provides solutions for families to address these issues.
This year's study reports on the completion of a total of
3,574 self-administered surveys by middle and high school
students in grades six through 12. Atlantic Research and
Consulting, Inc. designed the surveys and administered them
in a nationwide cross-section of 41 schools (21 middle schools;
20 high schools) between May 10 and June 14, 2004. The sampling
error for the study at the 95 percent confidence level is
For more information about Liberty Mutual, visit their website.
For more information about SADD, visit their website.