New Study Surveys Teen Driving Attitudes

Many teens do not take personal responsibility for safe driving and continue to engage in dangerous driving behaviors, this according to a new survey commissioned by Allstate Insurance. The survey also revealed that while the majority of teens polled were making New Year’s resolutions about getting better grades, or exercising more, only a small number of them were resolving to be safer drivers.

Ninety percent of the teens surveyed said they hoped their friends would be safer on the road in 2008; but only 11 percent answered that “driving more safely” was one of their personal New Year’s resolutions. Thirty-four percent of teens surveyed said that they had been frightened as a passenger because the driver was being careless, but did not say anything to the driver.

Fifty-seven percent of the respondents said they had driven more than 10 miles per hour over the speed limit, 22 percent admitted to having raced another vehicle, and 19 percent reported receiving a traffic ticket. Eighteen percent of the teens surveyed said they had been a passenger in a car being driven by a teen who was under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.

While the teens that were polled were willing to break the law, they were not as agreeable to looking the other way when it came to their friends. Forty-one percent of the respondents wanted their friends to stop engaging in unsafe practices including driving without seatbelts and speeding. More than two-thirds of teens surveyed said they wanted their friends to avoid technology distractions, such as text messaging, talking on a cell phone, and scrolling through an MP3 player, while driving.

There was an important positive outcome revealed by the Allstate survey; more teenagers are familiar with driver’s contracts, which means parents are taking a more active role in promoting driving safety. Approximately 30 percent of teens that have heard of these agreements have signed one. The researchers added that the dialogue opened by discussing the contract can be just as important as the signed agreement itself. However, if the contract is to be truly effective, that dialogue between parent and teen must be ongoing.

When parents start a dialogue with their teenage drivers, they can influence their child’s behavior. The survey indicated that almost half of the teens polled are having ‘good conversations’ with their parents about the importance of safe driving. But one conversation is not enough. Such dialogue needs to be frequent and meaningful if it is to deter teen drivers from engaging in unsafe driving behaviors.

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