Study Claims Teenagers Learn Distracted Driving Habits From Mom And Dad

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports — Your Universe Online
Parents, if your teenage children are distracted drivers or engage in dangerous activities while behind the wheel of the family car, a new study suggests that you may be the one to blame.
According to CNN’s Todd Sperry, a survey of over 1,700 teens admitted that they had performed such risky activities as speeding, talking or texting on their cell phones, or not wearing their seat belts while operating a motor vehicle.
The survey, which was conducted by Liberty Mutual Insurance and Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), also found that more than half of those teenage drivers had observed their parents engaging in similar behaviors while driving.
“These findings highlight the need for parents to realize how their teens perceive their actions,” Dave Melton, a driving safety expert with Liberty Mutual, told Sperry. “Your kids are always observing the decisions you make behind the wheel, and in fact have likely been doing so since they were big enough to see over the dashboard.”
“You may think you only occasionally read a text at a stop light or take the odd thirty-second phone call, but kids are seeing that in a different way,” he added. “Answering your phone once while driving, even if only for a few seconds, legitimizes the action for your children and they will, in turn, see that as acceptable behavior.”
Speeding was the most frequently performed driving activity, with 94% of teenage drivers admitting that they had done so and 88% claiming that they had witnessed their parents surpassing the speed limit, The Car Connection Contributing Writer Suzanne Kate reported on Friday. Ninety-one percent of teens said they had witnessed their parents talking on a cell phone while driving, and 90% said they had done so as well, she added.
More than three-fourths of all teenage responders (78%) confessed that they had texted while driving, while 59% of parents reportedly had done so, according to the survey. Adults were more likely than their children to not wear seatbelts (47% to 33%) and drive under the influence of alcohol (20% to 15%), but teenagers were more likely than their parents to attempt to operate a motor vehicle after smoking pot (16% to 7%), Kate noted.
“The best teacher for a teen driver is a good parental role model,” Stephen Wallace, SADD’s senior advisor for policy, research and education, told the automotive website. “But parents have to demonstrate good driving behavior from the onset so new drivers understand that safe driving rules apply to everyone equally.”