Where Do Kids Learn To Text & Drive? Ford Survey Blames Mom & Dad

April 27, 2011

Ever wonder where kids pick up their unsafe driving habits? If you're a parent, Ford says that you may be the one to blame.

Ford recently surveyed 908 people in the U.S.: 301 of those were tweens (age 9 - 12), 302 were teens (age 13 - 19), and 305 were parents of kids in those age ranges. The findings, while enlightening, weren't terribly surprising. Here are some of the major takeaways:

  • About 95% of all parents say that they're safe drivers, but 82% of teens say that they've seen mom and/or dad engage in unsafe driving behavior like texting and driving, talking on a mobile phone, or speeding.
  • About 78% of tweens say their parents have "a lot of influence" on the way they will drive.
  • About 66% of teen drivers say that their driving habits are influenced by those of their parents.
  • 82% of the parents surveyed expressed interest in putting their children through driver training programs, but less than 20% actually do.
  • Worst of all: vehicle crashes continue to be the leading cause of death for teens, and those accidents are frequently caused by distracted drivers.

Ford launched the 2011 Safe Driving Survey for a couple of reasons -- not least of which was to encourage teens to enroll in its Driving Skills for Life program, a free, nationwide program for teens who have earned or are about to earn their drivers' licenses.

Ford is also using the data to talk up the importance of its new safety technology, like SYNC (which offers hands-free communications and entertainment services) and Ford's popular MyKey feature (which parents can use to set limits on speed and radio volume).

For more details about the Driving Skills for Life program, check this video overview. For more details about Ford's 2011 Safe Driving Survey, enlarge the graphic above, or peruse the press release below. And parents, if you'd like some tools to help combat one of today's biggest distractions for teen drivers -- namely, texting and driving -- check out some of the smartphone apps we've reviewed like DriveSafe.ly, PhoneGuard, and SafeCell.

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Ford Survey: Parents Say They Drive Safely but Teens Observe Troubling Risks

  •     Nearly all (95 percent) parents believe they’re safe drivers yet 82 percent of teens report seeing their parents be careless when driving
  •     More than three quarters of tweens say they will rely heavily on their parents’ advice when they start to drive. Nationally renowned family psychologist says parents can have a positive impact by serving as role models and discussing safe driving practices with their children
  •     Ford expands award-winning teen safe driving program as 25 percent of teens say they have had no formal driver education training and 83 percent of parents who have seen cutbacks in such programs express concern
  •     Federal statistics show motor vehicle crashes remain the leading cause of death for teens. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 16 percent of all drivers younger than 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported to have been distracted while driving

NEW YORK, April 26, 2011 – U.S. teens and tweens say their parents are riskier drivers than they claim, according to a new national survey commissioned by Ford Motor Company. While nearly all parents say they are safe drivers and good role models for their kids, more than half (51 percent) admit their teens and tweens have asked them to slow down, stop talking or texting by hand, or practice other safe driving behaviors.

An even larger number (80 percent) of teens and tweens have seen their parents engage in risky actions behind the wheel while looking to their elders as driving role models. Meantime, 78 percent of tweens say their mothers and fathers have “a lot of influence” on the way they will drive and 66 percent of teenage drivers say their parents’ actions influence their driving.

“There seems to be a gap between parents saying they drive safely and what their kids observe,” said Sue Cischke, Ford group vice president, Sustainability, Environment and Safety Engineering. “Eating, reading and hand-held texting are bad habits that teens and tweens pick up. Ford continues to be part of the solution by expanding our teen safe driving education program and in-vehicle technologies that help improve safe driving behavior.”

Other key findings from the new survey:

  •     82 percent of parents expressed interest in enrolling their child in a safe driver training program, yet less than 20 percent currently do
  •     With many schools outsourcing driver education programs nationwide, 83 percent of parents who have seen such cuts express concern
  •     Parents rank more comprehensive driver education programs as the top way to improve safety while teens prioritize new technologies such as voice-controlled, hands-free connectivity systems

Ford continues to invest heavily in new safety technology and is ramping up its Driving Skills for Life program by extending its cost-free training to 30 additional markets in 2011, providing parents and new drivers with enhanced tools and driving skills. To date, 400,000 students have participated in the program, which includes hands-on driving along with web-based learning and tutorials built into school curricula.
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