March 19, 2007

Parent involvement key in preventing teen driving deaths

Northbrook, Illinois – A survey conducted by the Allstate Foundation in the U.S. shows that while parents know that car crashes caused by teenaged drivers are the leading killer of teens, the majority of parents do not understand the main causes of these crashes. The survey also found that while parents agree they must play a significant role in preparing their teens to drive, many still delay safe driving conversations, allow their teens to drive or ride in dangerous conditions, and model unsafe behaviour behind the wheel. The survey encompassed more than 1,000 parents of teenagers aged 15 to 17.

According to the survey, nearly 50 per cent of parents polled think crashes involving teens result from drunk drivers; in reality, the majority are caused by driver error, speeding and driving with distractions. Sixty per cent of parents say they have never heard of, or are only vaguely aware of graduated driver licensing laws.

The Allstate Foundation suggests the following:

  • Talk with your child early and often. The survey shows most parents do not talk to their teens about safe driving until a year or less before their teens receive a permit, long after the teens’ attitudes toward driving have developed. When their children are 12 or younger, 77 per cent of parents discuss the dangers of smoking, 72 per cent discuss drugs and 70 per cent discuss peer pressure, but only 27 per cent discuss safe driving.
  • Shake the “not my teen” syndrome: the survey finds that while two-thirds of parents polled think teens in general are bad drivers, 88 per cent trust their own children to drive safely, and 55 per cent believe that if their teens were in a crash, it would be someone else’s fault.
  • Restrict dangerous driving situations: 90 per cent of respondents permit their teens to drive after dark, even though they are twice as likely to crash at night as during the day; 77 per cent allow their teens to drive with friends, even though the chances of crashing increase in proportion to the number of teen passengers in a car; and 69 per cent allow their teens to drive in bad weather.

  • Practice what you preach: While 99 per cent of parents polled say it is helpful for their teens to see good driving behaviour from them, 71 per cent of parents have talked on a cell phone while driving with their teens in the car; 62 per cent have operated a radio, MP3 player, game or other device while driving; and more than a quarter have broken a law, such as running a red light or stop sign, with their teens in the car.

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