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So Teens Really Do Listen

Survey reveals that teens take parent's advice on driving

Anxious parents across the country are busy preparing a summertime homecoming for their college-age kids, many of whom will be making a lengthy road trip home from campus. Exactly how concerned should parents be about their teens on the road?

According to an online survey of teen drivers sponsored by Bridgestone, the answer depends on parents' involvement in ensuring their children are safe drivers. Evidence (once again) that harping doesn't hurt (no mention of the annoyance factor, however.)

What the survey revealed is that most teen drivers (63 percent) credit their parents as the source most responsible for teaching them driving skills. (Thankfully, just 4 percent of teens say they learned to drive from their friends.) Parents take note: you're in a unique position to encourage teens to practice safe driving habits. Maybe even more so than you thought.

According to survey results, one of the simplest safety behaviors in vehicles, namely wearing a seatbelt, seems to be indicative of other safe behaviors in teen driving. In fact, 19 percent of teen drivers who said they always wear their seatbelts also reported having been in an accident or receiving a moving violation. (That incidence rate jumped to 55 percent for those teens who only "occasionally" wear their seatbelts.) As the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration attributes the recent drop in highway fatalities to seatbelt usage, this simple safety behavior is essential to keep teens safe on the roads this summer.

It's a given that many teens will be driving with friends (no doubt headed to warm, summer night parties and swim clubs), so it makes sense that the survey also questioned respondents on their peers' driving habits. As it turns out - the older the teen (and the more driving-experienced) - the more they said their peers are not very safe drivers. More than half (54 percent) of 19-year-olds surveyed felt that teens are generally not safe drivers, compared with 35 percent of 16-year-olds who felt the same way.

Overall, the surveyed teens said they feel very well-educated about driving safety and regulations. But one area about which teens feel overwhelmingly ill-informed relates to proper car maintenance. Ninety-nine percent of all teens surveyed said they feel well informed about driver safety, and 98 percent feel well informed about traffic laws.  

However, when it comes to properly maintaining a vehicle, only 23 percent feel very well informed.

Survey fast facts:

  • Younger teens and those with learner's permits are more likely to practice safe driving habits than those who are older.

  • More than half (54 percent) of 19-year-olds surveyed felt their peers were not safe drivers. Ninety-six percent of 16-year-old drivers said they always wear their seatbelts, compared to 88 percent of 18-year-old drivers.

  • Of the teens who "always" wear their seatbelts, 19 percent have been in an accident or received a moving violation.

  • Of the teens who "occasionally" wear their seatbelts, 55 percent have been in an accident or received a moving violation.

  • Older teens (18- and 19-year-olds) were more likely than younger teens (16- and 17 year-olds) to drive over the speed limit, drive while talking on a cell phone, drive with other passengers in the vehicle and drive while drowsy.

    The data cited in this release is based on the findings of an online survey among 800 teen drivers nationwide, conducted on behalf of Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire, LLC (BFNT) by Charlton Research Company. Eligible participants were 16 to 19 years old with a valid driver's license or learner's permit. The survey was conducted July 22-28, 2005.

    About Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire, LLC:
    Nashville-based Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire, LLC (BFNT) is a subsidiary of Bridgestone Americas Holding, Inc., whose parent company, Bridgestone Corporation, is the world's largest tire and rubber company. BFNT develops, manufactures and markets Bridgestone, Firestone and associate and private brand tires. The company is focused on wholesale and original equipment markets, supplying passenger, light truck, commercial vehicle, off-road, motorcycle, agricultural and other tires to its customers in North America.

    (Source: Bridgestone/Firestone)