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Parents Modeling Bad Driving Habits to Teens

Distracted driving practices influence kids’ behaviors.

by on Aug.08, 2014

Teens mimic the behavior of their parents, especially when it comes to distracted driving.

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.

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“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.

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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.

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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.

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“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.”

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3 Responses to “Parents Modeling Bad Driving Habits to Teens”

  1. Jorge says:

    Yeah, right. We see daily how responsible parents are with driving, cellphones, alcohol, prescription drugs and tobacco to name a few items. With so many obtuse parents what would you expect of their offspring?

  2. EAJ says:

    Exactly Jorge. Been saying this forever, kids are going to pickup the bad habits more quickly than the good / correct driving habits. Looking at the current crop of young drivers I think I may give up driving all together in about 15 ~ 20 years as their offspring will surely be more horrible. I’m just wondering how most of these people get their licenses in the first place. Cracker-Jack must still be around b/c that has to be where they’re getting licenses…

  3. Jorge says:

    You can’t fix STUPID!