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Control and Responsibility: Teen Drivers Conflicted

teen driver

New State Farm survey reveals teen drivers know the dangers but continue risky behaviors

BLOOMINGTON, IL--June 12, 2013: While an overwhelming majority of teen drivers felt a personal sense of responsibility for themselves (98 percent) and their passengers (99 percent), many admitted to feeling helpless about their own crash risk. Two out of five licensed or permitted teen drivers indicated they have no control over whether or not they will get into a car crash according to a national survey conducted in March among 655 14-18 year olds by State Farm and Harris Interactive.

Seventeen year-old Texan, Ericka Thomas, was driving her younger sister home during a heavy rain storm last December when her car hydroplaned and began to fishtail then crashed. "You can say getting into a car crash will never happen to you all day long," says Thomas. "You can't control everything, but you have to be able to trust what your parents and driving instructor taught you."

Both sisters walked away from the crash unscathed. Thomas relied on skills she learned from her parents and instructors, preventing what could have been a much worse wreck. "Safe driving is more than just staying in between the yellow lines. It's a really important responsibility," Thomas shared.

"It's promising that almost all teen drivers surveyed feel a strong sense of responsibility for their own safety and the safety of their passengers," said Chris Mullen, Director of Technology Research at State Farm. "Since previous research shows that 75 percent of teen crashes are caused by driver error, it is troubling that so many believe they have no control over whether or not they will crash."

What teens said about risky behaviors and their skills behind the wheel
When teen drivers were asked what concerns them while driving, only 55 percent were concerned with their own lack of driving experience.  However, 80 percent of teens said they were concerned about other drivers on the road.

Survey results also showed:

  • Teens that have their license (49 percent) were also significantly more likely to admit to texting/reading a text while driving than those teens that just had a permit (6 percent).
  • On a more promising note, 93 percent of teens stated they wear their seat belt all of the time and 76 percent of teens indicated having no more than one peer passenger in their car.

"Most teens are getting the message when it comes to risky driving behaviors like not wearing their seat belts or having too many passengers in their car; but less are aware of the dangers of their inexperience," said Mullen. "There is also still room for improvement when it comes to interacting with electronic devices while driving; teens should be aiming for zero percent usage."

Car crashes are the number one cause of death among teens
State Farm, along with other safety advocates, has long tried to change a staggering statistic: car crashes are the number one cause of death among teens in North America.  With the introduction of its Celebrate My Drive program in 2012, State Farm is working to emphasize the positives of safe driving.

"Through programs like Celebrate My Drive and our continued work towards stronger laws, enforcement, education and awareness, we are using the correct comprehensive approach to save lives," Mullen shared.

About the Survey
This survey was conducted by telephone within the United States between March 20-25, 2013 by Harris Interactive among 655 14-18 year olds. Figures for age, sex, geographic region and race were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. 

About State Farm:
State Farm and its affiliates are the largest provider of car insurance in the U.S. and is a leading insurer in Canada. In addition to providing auto insurance quotes , their 17,800 agents and more than 65,000 employees serve 81 million policies and accounts -- more than 79 million auto, home, life and health policies in the United States and Canada, and nearly 2 million bank accounts. Commercial auto insurance , along with coverage for renters, business owners, boats and motorcycles, is also available. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company is the parent of the State Farm family of companies.
State Farm is ranked No. 44 on the Fortune 500 list of largest companies.