"My Kids Don't Do That!" Nationwide Survey Finds Parents In Denial About Teens Driving Distracted

teen drivers (select to view enlarged photo)

NASHVILLE, TN--Oct. 22, 2013: From texting and checking social media to changing music and talking with friends, teens admit to driving distracted at a much higher rate than their parents realize, a recent nationwide survey shows.

The study, commissioned by Bridgestone Americas, found that parents significantly underestimated the driving distractions in which their teen engages. Teens are almost 25 percent more likely to engage in common distractions, such as socializing with passengers, and talking on cell phones than their parents assume. For instance, almost 85 percent of teens admit to driving distracted because they were socializing with passengers, yet only 59 percent of parents suspect that their teen driver has been distracted by passengers in the car.

The tire manufacturer surveyed more than 2,000 parents of teen drivers and found:

Only 39 percent of parents think their teen driver talks on the phone while driving, yet half of all young drivers admit to doing so. A quarter of parents believe their young driver texts behind the wheel, although twice that number of teens admit to texting and driving.

"What we're seeing is that parents misjudge how prevalent many of these distracted driving behaviors are and how often their child participates in these activities," said Angela Patterson, Manager, Teens Drive Smart Program, Bridgestone Americas. "Not only are teens engaging in these behaviors more than they know, teens are actually picking up these distracted driving behaviors from their parents.

The study clearly showed that distracted driving behaviors are hardly limited to our youngest drivers. Nearly all parents claim that participating in distracted behaviors while driving is unacceptable, yet 94 percent of parents admit to driving distracted anyway.

Not only do parents admit their own engagement with distracted driving, they also dramatically overestimate their own driving skills. Nearly every parent surveyed believed they were an average driver and two-thirds believed they were above average drivers. More than 70 percent of parents felt that they are safer drivers compared to everyone else on the road.

In a separate teen driver study released by Bridgestone in April 2013, two-thirds of teens said that they model their driving habits after their parents. Between the two surveys, these studies show that teens have observed their parents engaging in distracting behavior behind the wheel at higher rates than their parents admit. While 44 percent of parents admit to talking on a cell phone, 60 percent of teens said they witnessed their parent chatting behind the wheel.

Bridgestone has been working to bring awareness to distracted driving for nearly a decade through its annual Teens Drive Smart Video Contest and Teens Drive Smart Driving Experience. For more information about the Teens Drive Smart Parent Survey or the PSA campaign, visit Teens Drive Smart .

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