Parents & Teens Distracted Driving Habits Aren’t Safest

Whether it’s texting or calling when their teen is behind the wheel or personally engaging in risky driving behavior, such as speeding, while their teen was a passenger, parents may not be the pinnacle of safe driving. In fact, nearly one in four teens (23 percent) don’t believe their parents driving habits set a good example for them to follow, and another 23 percent of teens are unsure.

That’s according to data released today from EverQuote, Inc., a leading online insurance marketplace matching U.S. drivers with insurance providers. The survey compares distracted driving behavior and sentiment among 1,183 U.S. teens ages 14-18(1) and 1,500 parents of teens ages 14-18.(2)

The 2017 Family Safe Driving Report shows that while parents and teens disagree about what’s more worrisome and dangerous – driving distracted versus driving drunk – they do agree that texting or cell phone use is the biggest distraction to teen drivers. Nearly three out of four parents (73 percent) believe that texting or cell phone use poses the biggest distraction for their teen driver, and more than half (55 percent) of all teens admit that cell phones are the biggest driving distraction they personally face.

Additional findings from the 2017 Family Safe Driving Survey show:

Parents’ fear of teens getting into a car accident is a top concern.

  • When asked to review a multiple choice list of top concerns for their teens’ safety, 60 percent of parents identified “getting into a car accident” as one of their top concerns. In addition, from the multiple choice list of top concerns for their teens’ safety:
    • 43 percent identified “alcohol, smoking or illegal substance” as one of their top concerns
    • 28 percent identified “sexual activity” as one of their top concerns
    • 19 percent identified “poor academic performance” as one of their top concerns

Parents worry more about their teens driving distracted versus driving drunk.

  • Seventy-four percent of parents admit they worry more about their teen driving distracted than driving drunk. However, while distracted driving is the biggest worry among parents – and claimed 3,477 lives in 2015 – less than one in four teens (21 percent) believe that driving distracted is more dangerous than driving drunk. Additionally, almost one in three teens (31 percent) admit they had or knew someone who lost a friend or loved one due to distracted driving.

While teens and parents agree that texting while driving is the biggest distraction facing teen drivers, parents, not teens, admit to more phone use while driving.

  • Sixty-three percent of parents admit to checking a mobile application, texting or taking a phone call while driving, compared to one in three teens (30 percent) who admit to phone use while driving.

Parents are distracting their teens while they drive.

  • One in four parents of teens (24 percent) admitted to texting or calling their teen while they knew their teen was driving, and nearly half of all teens (44 percent) admit they’ve received a call or text from a parent while they were driving.

Teens aren’t entirely convinced that their parents’ driving habits set a good, safe driving example for them to follow.

  • In addition to “fessing up” to phone use while driving, more than half of parents (55 percent) also admit to driving over the speed limit while their teen was in the car with them. Speeding is one of the leading causes of car accidents. However, despite this behavior, the majority of parents (62 percent) believe their personal driving habits set a good example for their teen driver. On this, 23 percent of teens disagree and 23 percent are unsure that their parents driving habits set a good example of safe driving.

Teens differ from their parents in their opinions about safe driving. However, teens are in favor of full transparency and would allow their parents to monitor their driving.

  • Unsurprisingly, the majority of teens would prefer that their parents monitor their driving behaviors (57 percent) versus their online search history (16 percent). In fact, 50 percent of teens would be willing to let their parents monitor their driving habits (through a mobile app or built-in car technology) if they knew it would help save money on car insurance. Furthermore, 23 percent of parents already use mobile technology or applications to monitor their teen’s driving habits, and 34 percent – who admit they don’t currently use technology to monitor their teen’s driving – would like to start.

“Our goal in conducting this survey is to not only expose key issues facing today’s teen drivers, but also to empower parents and teens to have conversations on safer driving habits,” said Seth Birnbaum, CEO of EverQuote. “According to the National Center for Health Statistics, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among teens, and we believe that educating both parents and teens on how to monitor and improve driving habits is an important contribution to curbing these tragedies.”

For more information and to learn more about preventing distracted driving, view the full 2017 Family Safe Driving Report here.