Parents over optimistic about teen driving behaviors
according to State Farm Insurance research

Brent Jennings. PE
Highway Safety Manager

In many situations, we think we know what the other person’s thoughts and ideas are, but in reality sometimes our perceptions do not always align. I want to share with you some interesting information from a survey conducted by our highway safety partners from State Farm Insurance. I found this to be of interest, and I hope you do too.

In a new survey conducted by State Farm Insurance, it was revealed that parents of teen drivers believe teens are obeying the letter of the law when it comes to Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) laws. As it turns out, what parents think – or hope – and what teens report actually doing don’t match up.

GDL laws are an experience-based method for beginning drivers in which driving privileges are introduced in phases. States began enacting GDL laws in the mid 1990s. The objective of GDL is to keep teens out of high-risk driving situations while permitting them to gain on-road experience in low-risk environments. In June, State Farm surveyed a sample of 500 parents of teen drivers and an independent sample of 500 teen drivers, asking for their take on parental monitoring and graduated driver licensing laws — if teens follow the laws and the reasons why they do so.

Parents overestimate how much teens obey two key provisions of GDL laws
Nighttime driving – 69 percent of parents believe their teen driver almost always follows restrictions, while less than half (48 percent) of teens admit to almost always following this law.

Passenger restrictions
70 percent of parents believe their teen driver almost always obeys this life-saving statute while only 43 percent of teens state they almost always follow this restriction.

Teens and Parents have different beliefs about why teens do or do not obey GDL laws
Peer pressure vs. the police: Parents listed peer pressure as the most likely reason teens do not follow GDL laws (34 percent), whereas teens listed thinking police will not catch them as the most likely reason (32 percent).

Safety first
Parents were significantly more likely than teens to list “safety” as the most important reason to follow GDL laws (89 percent vs. 51 percent, respectively).

Parents were significantly more likely to report they almost always monitor if their teens obey the GDL laws, but teens disagreed
Parents were significantly more likely than teens to state teens will obey the driving restrictions because of parental monitoring (87 percent vs. 56 percent, respectively).

Nighttime restrictions
66 percent of parents said they almost always monitor if their teen obeys the restriction, while only 32 percent of teens stated their parents almost always monitor their adherence to that law.

Passenger restrictions
65 percent of parents said they almost always monitor their teens and only 27 percent of teens state their parents almost always monitor their adherence to the law.

Parents and Teens agree texting while driving is unsafe
Seventy-two percent of teens stated they almost always obey texting ban laws, substantially higher than any other GDL provision. Though significantly more parents think their teens almost always obey this law (82 percent), both teens and parents perceive this GDL provision as the most widely obeyed.

Idaho GDL Law
The GDL laws in Idaho can be an effective tool in reducing the crash risk of newly minted drivers. Here is a summary of the GDL law in Idaho:

I found this information very interesting, and it gave me pause to think about the parent and teen perspectives of teen driving and the importance of parent and teen interaction during the early stages of driving. Parents are one of our most important highway safety partners, and their involvement with their teens is critical as we continue our journey Towards Zero Deaths.

Published 9-20-13