Parents Keep Their Eyes on the Road While Driving; Teens Keep Their Eyes on Their Parents
Nationwide survey shows children as young as 10 are keen observers of parents’ driving behaviors – good and bad
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Aug. 21, 2007
Charley Gillespie 614-249-5701
Columbus, Ohio — Although they may seem to be involved with listening to music, chatting with friends or gazing out the window, pre-teens and teens are keen observers -- and students -- of their parents’ driving habits. As found in a new study of more than 2,200 parents and children by Nationwide Mutual Insurance, 82 percent of 10- to 18-year-olds pay attention to their parents’ driving at least half of the time they spend in the car.
“Teens are learning the rules of the roads by watching their parents. Parents play a significant role in shaping the type of driver their child will become and they recognize this duty. According to the survey, 85 percent of parents say they try to promote roadway safety by driving safely themselves,” said Bill Windsor, Nationwide associate vice president of safety.
While parents recognize they are being observed and need to lead by example, this often gets lost in practice. Two out of five parents surveyed say they curb their bad driving habits in front of their children but many children report seeing their parents drive aggressively, feel around for items in the car, talk on cell phones and refrain from wearing seatbelts.
The survey underscores the significant opportunity parents have to model smart driving habits with their children. The cost of missing this opportunity is significant – according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, automobile crashes are the leading cause of death among American teens. For 16-to-18-year-olds, crashes account for more than one-third of all deaths.
“Parents can help their children learn safe driving skills by putting safety into practice whenever the ignition is turned on, regardless of whether children are in the car or not,” Windsor continued. “And when it comes to potentially saving the lives of young people and protecting others on the roads, very few conversations are more important than discussing how to be a smart driver with pre-teens and teens.”
Key findings from the study:
- While nearly half of parents report that they typically drive at or below the speed limit, 80 percent of children observe that their parents drive over the speed limit.
- More than half of children have observed their parent multi-tasking behind the wheel (talk on cell phones, adjust radio and/or correct a misbehaving child), arguing with a passenger, and/or arguing and yelling at other drivers.
- Nearly three in ten children surveyed have been scared by a parent’s driving and 53 percent of parents have been scared when riding with their teen driving.
- More than half of children have not told their parents how they feel about their driving – including 20 percent who never found the right time or way to bring it up.
- 27 percent of teens with their driver’s license have never had formal instruction and have learned from watching their parents and other people drive.
- Teen drivers are 66 percent more likely to obey speed limits and 51 percent more likely to keep both hands on the steering wheel than their parents.
Parental influence on the driving habits of their children is confirmed by research from the IIHS.
“IIHS has found that parents with traffic violations or who’ve been in crashes are more likely to have teen drivers with violations or crashes,” said Anne McCartt, senior vice president for research at IIHS. “Our research and Nationwide’s survey should send a clear message that when it comes to learning good driving habits, parents matter.”
For more information about teen driving and how parents and children can communicate about driving smarter, please visit www.nationwidesmartride.com
Between July 2 and July 12, 2007, Marketing Services Research, Inc (MRSI) conducted 2,253 interviews using a nationally representative online panel. All respondents were required to be a parent of a child between the ages of 10 and 18 and a licensed driver, or a child between the ages of 10 and 18. In total, 735 parents and 1518 children were surveyed.
Three types of interviews were conducted in order to ensure accuracy: parent-only interviews, child-only interviews and parent/child interviews. Results were then examined to determine whether or not differences existed between the attitudes of respondents in paired interviews and those who were surveyed alone. No significant differences of note emerged.
The survey has +/- 4.8 percent margin of error.
Nationwide, based in Columbus, Ohio, is one of the largest diversified insurance and financial services organizations in the world, with more than $160 billion in assets. Nationwide ranks #104 on the Fortune 500 list. The company provides a full range of insurance and financial services, including auto, motorcycle, boat, homeowners, life, commercial insurance, administrative services, annuities, mortgages, mutual funds, pensions, long-term savings plans and health and productivity services. For more information, visit www.nationwide.com
Nationwide and the Nationwide Framemark and On Your Side are federally registered trade marks of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company.
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