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Teen’s Driving Habits Formed by Perception of Parent’s Driving

Posted on November 28, 2012

Seal of the University of Michigan

“Do as I say, not as you think I do” could be the new catchphrase of parents trying to trainĀ teenage drivers. In a recent survey of distracted driving between parents and teen drivers in the same family, the reported actions of parents behind the wheel had less of an influence than what their children thought they did behind the wheel.

The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute and Toyota. Nationally, 5,500 teenage drivers and parents were interviewed over the phone by researchers looking into the habits of both drivers that distract them from the road. Distracted driving is fast becoming a major safety concern as more and more car accidents are caused by drivers checking their phone, GPS or juggling multiple electronics.

In addition to safety concerns for all drivers, car accidents remain one of the top killers of teenagers in the United States. An average of seven teens a day died in a car crash in 2010. This is partially due to inexperience, but also caused by poor decision making. Having a parent that exemplifies safe driving behaviors could help reduce the number accidents and possibly deaths in the young driver demographic.

Overall, if a teen sees their parent doing something behind the wheel, they are more likely to emulate that behavior. If a parent looks for something while driving, a teen is twice as likely to do the same. Teens who think their parents look for something while driving, regardless of if they see them or not, are four times as likely to do the same. This is compared to parents who don’t look for something at all while driving and teens who don’t think their parents do this, respectively.

In each of the categories, the results are largely the same. Eating or drinking while driving is two times more likely from teens whose parents do this, but three times more likely when teens think they do. About a third of teens believe their parents use electronics behind the wheel, but only a tenth of parents report doing so. Teens text while driving 26 times more often than parents think their children do.

University of Michigan researchers are continuing to analyze numbers and will have more insights in the coming months. For now, the study shows that driver education begins as soon as children can watch parents drive. Set a good example for kids early on and maybe the worst driving habits won’t be passed on to another generation.

Was your teenage driver injured in an accident? Speak to one of our personal injury lawyers today to find out if you have a valid claim. Visit the Accident Attorneys’ Group to learn more.

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