Model Behavior: How Parents Influence Their Teens’ Driving Habits

Last month, a new study from Liberty Mutual Insurance and Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) revealed alarming details regarding just how influential a parent’s driving habits are when it comes to the way teenage drivers handle themselves behind the wheel.

According to the survey, which polled 1,700 teens from across the nation, parents are engaging in poor and risky driving habits while their teens are in the car and doing far more than just putting their families at risk. With behaviors ranging from texting to speeding to driving while intoxicated, parents are setting poor examples for their teenage drivers, who are proving to repeat the actions of their parents in nearly equal amounts.

Not surprisingly, the most common destructive driving behavior modeled by parents was talking on a cell phone while driving. The second-most repeated offense was speeding, followed by texting, driving without a seatbelt, driving while intoxicated and, finally, driving under the influence of marijuana. According to the teens, 91 percent of parents talk on the phone while behind the wheel, 88 percent speed and 59 percent text while driving. And because parents are reportedly the primary influence on the driving habits of their teens, these young drivers are incorporating these patterns into their own driving styles as well—sometimes at even a greater rate. While 90 percent of teens report talking on the phone while driving, 94 percent admit to speeding and 78 percent to texting.

What may be even more discouraging, however, is that 66 percent of teens reported that their parents live by different rules than the ones they expected of their kids. Not only are teens learning and incorporating poor habits, they’re also learning a life lesson in hypocrisy. It may sound harsh, but it’s true.

At D&R Autoworks, we know that drivers today face many distractions. Talking on the phone, speeding, texting and other behaviors are all part of a hurried, frenzied culture and it takes great discipline not to engage in habits that could prove harmful. However, we want to offer a word of caution to all of our customers who have young eyes observing them: Be mindful of your example. Whether or not you are telling your kids about safe driving, they are still watching what you do when it comes to your own personal standard. And if it’s safe enough for you, they will believe that it’s safe enough for them regardless of what you say when you’re at home.

Yes, by all means, talk to your young drivers about maintaining good driving habits. Encourage them to wear their seatbelts and obey the laws. But more than anything practice what you preach. With nearly all teens reportedly mirroring the habits of their parents behind the wheel, it’s crucial for you to set a good example if you truly expect them to prioritize their own safety.

This week, we challenge you as parents and role models to examine your personal driving habits and what kind of message your actions are sending to your family. Are you living how you expect them to live, or are you following the “do as I say, not as I do” rule? Because the truth is that only one of those methods will offer positive results—ones that could mean the life or death of your child.

At D&R Autoworks, we care about our customers and want them to stay safe behind the wheel. If that means setting aside the cell phone in order to help a younger driver develop better skills, then so be it. We know you’ll do whatever it takes to protect your family and do right by them. And, in the meantime, if there’s any way we can be of assistance, don’t hesitate to give us a call or stop by the station. We’ll always do whatever we can to help you get your wheels in gear for the road ahead.


Driver Safety
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