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2017 Family Safe Driving Report

Seth Birnbaum


The 2017 Family Safe Driving Report surveyed 1,183 U.S. teen drivers ages 14-18(1) and 1,500 parents of teen drivers ages 14-18(2) to compare distracted driving behavior and sentiment among parents and teen drivers. The survey found that risky driving behavior seems to run in the family, and parents share some of the blame in teen distracted driving, as their driving habits may not be setting the best example for teen drivers.

Whether it’s texting or calling when their teen is driving behind the wheel or personally engaging in risky driving behavior, such as speeding, while their teen was a passenger, 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.

Other findings from the 2017 Family Safe Driving Report show:

Teens and parents agree texting is the biggest distraction to teen drivers.

  • 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 phone is the biggest driving distraction they personally face.

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) admitted 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 less than 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) admitted 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 admitted to driving over the speed limit while their teen was in the car with them, 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 may 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 admitted they don’t currently use technology to monitor their teen’s driving -- would like to start using technology to monitor their teens driving.


Go to parent findings >>