With vehicle crashes the leading cause of death among teens, a new teen driving survey looks at teen driving practices, behaviors and perceptions – and shows some surprising (and not so surprising) results.
Conducted for Ford by Penn Schoen Berland, the study involved 500 teens aged 15 through 18 and their parents.
Most dangerous season
When asked which season is the most dangerous for young drivers, teens and their parents said winter (65 percent, 58 percent, respectively), while only 24 percent of teens and 27 percent of parents identified summer as the most dangerous season for teen drivers.
In fact, the summer months of June through August result in the most teen fatalities, 358 reported deaths, compared with 271 reported deaths during the months of December through February.
Ford’s analysis of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) for 2002 through 2011 shows that teen driver fatalities are generally higher in summer months.
Although most teens are unaware that summer is the most dangerous time for young drivers, 90 percent of teens surveyed said they would drive more cautiously after learning this information.
Ford teen driving survey
Other survey results
Teens were also asked how often they engaged four types of distracted driving:
- 61 percent admitted to eating or drinking while driving
- 62 percent say they’re distracted by others in the car
- 51 percent listen to the iPod or MP3 player
- 42 percent turn the radio up so loud they can’t hear nearby vehicles
The results of the survey show that girls are more likely to be distracted by others in the car, while boys were less likely to wear seatbelts. Other perceptions by teens vary with gender. Girls are more likely to talk on the cell phone while driving, to wear seatbelts, and to be safe and defensive drivers. Boys, on the other hand, are more likely to drive aggressively, to speed, to drive when tired, and to drink and drive.
Both parents and teens surveyed agreed that distracted driving and drunk driving are equally dangerous behaviors. As for how often they use their handheld cell phone while driving, 28 percent of parents say they do this, compared with 20 percent of teen drivers.
While most parents worry about their teens’ driving, only about 25 percent of parents use a device to enforce driving rules or restrict cell phone use while their teens are behind the wheel.
Ford’s efforts to help teens become safer drivers
Ford has two ways it tries to help teens become safer drivers on the road, Ford MyKey and Ford Driving Skills for Life.
MyKey is software embedded in the keys of most Ford and Lincoln vehicles that enables parents to enforce driving rules to buckle up, slow down, turn down the radio volume, to have cell phones turned to “Do Not Disturb,” and to give an earlier warning of low fuel.
MyKey is now being launched on the 2014 Ford Fiesta subcompact car. The only vehicles lacking MyKey today are commercial vans, but the feature will be added in the future.
Ford Driving Skills For Life
Now in its tenth year, Ford Driving Skills for Life is a free program that teaches new drivers safe driving skills. Partnering with the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), the program will reach about 200 high schools and approximately 40,000 teen drivers this year.
Besides the hands-on training, the Ford Driving Skills for Life is also available online in The Academy. The program is expanding globally as well. Ford estimates that hundreds of thousands of teens have participated in the program to-date, combining hands-on and online audiences.
Information on the Ford Driving Skills for Life program is available here.