5 Driving Risks Parents Should Discuss With Their Kids

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October 18, 2016

A new poll released by the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) highlights the need for more parents to discuss the greatest dangers young drivers may be facing – distracted driving, lack of seat belt use, speeding, impaired driving and extra passengers.
Because parents play such an important role in influencing their teens’ decision making while driving, PCI asked parents what driving risks they have discussed with their children. The survey found that most parents had talked with their kids about using seat belts all/most of the time (65 percent) and texting while driving (56 percent). However, only about half of parents have discussed speeding (50 percent), talking on a cell phone while driving (47 percent) or driving under the influence of alcohol (46 percent), and even less have touched on subjects such as using social media while driving (42 percent), driving under the influence of marijuana (32 percent) or talking with passengers while driving (16 percent). The online survey of over 1,000 U.S. parents was conducted in September 2016 by Harris Poll on behalf of PCI.
“Parents need to take the time to talk with their kids about the many dangers of driving,” said Bob Passmore, assistant vice president of policy development and research for PCI. “Over the past two years, the roadways have become much more dangerous. Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that motor vehicle crashes, the leading cause of deaths for teenagers in the U.S., jumped more than 10 percent since 2014. Parents need to set a good example and educate their loved ones to put the phone down and pay attention to the road.”
The survey found that nearly all parents who currently drive said they set a good example for their children by avoiding driving while distracted (90 percent) and parents were more likely to say they wear seat belts all or most of the time (77 percent) than non-parents (71 percent). But parents were more likely than non-parents to say they engage in activities that cause distractions such as talking on a cell phone while driving  (24 percent vs. 18 percent, respectively) or eating while driving (27 percent vs. 17 percent, respectively).
“Communicating the dangers of distracted driving is particularly important because teenagers are especially vulnerable to these accidents,” said Passmore. “According to the AAA Foundation, the 15- to 19-year-old age group has the largest proportion of distracted drivers. Teens are distracted almost a quarter of the time they’re behind the wheel and they are four times more likely than adults to get into crashes or near-crashes when talking or texting on a smartphone.”
The survey also found that there is widespread agreement among an overwhelming number of parents that texting (98 percent), talking on a cell phone (87 percent), using social media (98 percent) or driving under the influence of drugs (98 percent) or alcohol (99 percent) are dangerous activities for someone to do while driving.  “These are some of the primary reasons why traffic accidents, fatalities and injuries are increasing — and why we’re starting to see the byproduct of these trends: rising insurance costs,” said Passmore.  “Simple modifications to driver behavior can have a big impact on these alarming accident statistics, make our roads safer and keep costs down for consumers.”
PCI encourages parents to reinforce five necessary rules that teen drivers need to follow to stay safe behind the wheel in a car, truck, or SUV and to talk to their teen driver about the rules of the road.

Remember the ‘5 to Drive’

1.  No Drinking and Driving.
Set a good example by not driving after drinking. Remind your teen that drinking before the age of 21 is illegal, and alcohol and driving should never mix, no matter your age.
2. Buckle Up. Every Trip. Every Time. Everyone — Front Seat and Back.
Lead by example. If you wear your seat belt every time you’re in the car, your teen is more likely to follow suit. Remind your teen that it’s important to buckle up on every trip, every time, no matter what (both in the front and back seats).
3. Eyes on the Road, Hands on the Wheel. All the Time.
Remind your teen about the dangers of texting, dialing, or using mobile apps while driving. Have them make their phone off-limits when they are on the road. But distracted driving isn’t limited to phone use. Other passengers, audio and climate controls in the vehicle, and eating or drinking while driving, are all examples of dangerous distractions for teen drivers. 
4. Stop Speeding Before It Stops You.
Speeding is a critical issue for all drivers, especially teens. Do not exceed the speed limit and require your teen to do the same. Explain that every time your speed doubles, your stopping distance quadruples.
5. No More Than One Passenger at Any Time.
With each passenger in the vehicle, your teen’s risk of a fatal crash goes up. Check your State’s GDL law before your teen takes to the road; it may prohibit any passengers in vehicles with teen drivers.
Survey methodology: This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of Property Casualty Insurers Association of America  from September 20-22, 2016 among 1,075 U.S. adults ages 18 and older who are parents. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.
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