It's Teen Driver Safety Week, and as you might expect, there's plenty of discussion in the media about making young drivers safer drivers.
But no matter how many tips we offer parents on coaching teens about auto safety, none of it will do a lick of good if parents don't discuss the matter with their kids. And sadly, according to a new study commissioned by Bridgestone Americas, many adults may not be having those important conversations because they believe their kids are perfectly sane, sensible drivers.
The study asked 2,000 U.S. parents of teen drivers about their children's driving habits. Among the more notable findings:
- Only 59 percent of parents suspect that their teen driver is distracted by socializing with passengers, but a separate study revealed that 89 percent of teens admit to being distracted by others in the vehicle.
- Only 39 percent of parents suspect Junior of talking on the phone behind the wheel, but in fact, half of young drivers do so. (Ed. note: We'd expect that figure to be higher, actually.)
- Only 25 percent of parents suspect their little angels of texting and driving, but the real number is closer to 50 percent. (Ed. note, again: If not more.)
These disconnects between perception and reality are probably to be expected, given parents' distorted views of their own driving prowess. Nearly all parents in the study rated themselves as "average" drivers, with many claiming "above-average" status. And almost every one of them said that distracted driving was a big no-no. However, 94 percent admitted to distracted driving.
That's troublesome because, as we've seen before, teens pick up driving habits from their parents. So, no matter how much mom and dad may talk the talk, if they don't walk the walk, Dick and Jane won't tune in.
Bottom line: the sad fact is that many teens -- if not most of them -- have lots of bad driving habits. Talking about driver safety with your kids can help them break such habits, but only if you don't engage in them yourself.