Parents Modeling Bad Driving Habits to Teens

The Detroit Bureau

While many par­ents often con­cen­trate on what kind of vehi­cle will keep their teen dri­vers the safest, it’s poor behav­iors they exhib­it behind the wheel that make the biggest dif­fer­ence in safe­ty and teens learn many of those habits from their par­ents.

“While par­ents may think they’re set­ting a good exam­ple for their teens, these find­ings sug­gest that some par­ents engage in unsafe dri­ving habits more often than they might admit,” said Dave Melton, dri­ving safe­ty expert with Lib­er­ty Mutu­al Insur­ance and man­ag­ing direc­tor of glob­al safe­ty.

“Research shows that teens often repli­cate their par­ents’ poor dri­ving behav­iors, so it’s crit­i­cal for the safe­ty of every­one on the road that par­ents be a mod­el for respon­si­ble dri­ving when­ev­er they are behind the wheel.”

A new sur­vey by Lib­er­ty Mutu­al and Stu­dents Against Destruc­tive Deci­sions shows that par­ents engage in the same dan­ger­ous dri­ving behav­iors – includ­ing dri­ving with­out a seat belt, tex­ting, and dri­ving after con­sum­ing alco­hol – that they warn their chil­dren against.

Per­haps even more con­cern­ing, is that 41% of teens who asked their par­ents to “Do as they say” con­tin­ued engag­ing in the dan­ger­ous actions behind the wheel.

Accord­ing to the sur­vey, par­ents actu­al­ly admit to engag­ing in many of the same dan­ger­ous – and in some cas­es, ille­gal – dri­ving behav­iors that they warn their own chil­dren against, often at alarm­ing­ly high rates:

♦ Talk­ing on cell phone while dri­ving: 86%
♦ Speed­ing: 80%
♦ Tex­ting and dri­ving: 40%
♦ Dri­ving after con­sum­ing alco­hol: 34%
♦ Dri­ving with­out a seat belt: 21%

Par­ents are mak­ing an impres­sion on teens with their actions as 83% of teens say their par­ents engage in unsafe dri­ving behav­iors with them in the car. These are usu­al­ly at high­er rates than par­ents admit, includ­ing 58% say­ing they have wit­nessed their par­ents tex­ting and dri­ving while 41% saw their par­ents dri­ving with­out a seat belt.

Addi­tion­al­ly, when asked 84% of par­ents said they mod­i­fied their behav­iors when asked by their teenagers; how­ev­er, the teens are call­ing their bluff in almost half the cas­es: 41%. Worse, is the fact that 28% of par­ents jus­ti­fied their actions to teens and anoth­er 12% sim­ply ignore the request.

“The major­i­ty of teens learn to dri­ve from their par­ents, and an open dia­logue about safe behav­iors on both sides is crit­i­cal,” said Stephen Gray Wal­lace, senior advi­sor for pol­i­cy, research and edu­ca­tion at SADD. “If par­ents aren’t set­ting the right exam­ple for safe dri­ving every time they’re behind the wheel, it’s prob­a­ble that teens will learn and mim­ic those risky behav­iors.”

Read the orig­i­nal arti­cle in its entire­ty.

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