Teenage drivers are both aware of the dangers associated with driving and insecure about their abilities to manage those dangers, according to a new study released by Driving-Tests.org.
The survey was completed by 1,421 participants, three-quarters of whom were between the ages of 14 and 24. Among the respondents, 69 percent said texting was the most dangerous activity one can do while driving, while nine percent said drinking alcohol and eight percent said talking on a cell phone.
About one-third of those teens surveyed claim to fear being involved in a crash. Five percent identified “dying” in a wreck as their biggest fear while seven percent said killing another person in an accident was their greatest concern. Another 20 percent claim the “unpredictability or uncertainty” of interacting with other drivers on the road.
Deaths of Drivers Ages 16 and 17 Increased 19 Percent
Their fears may be justified. According to preliminary data collected by the Governors Highway Safety Association, traffic deaths among 16- and 17-year-old drivers increased by 19 percent during the first six months of 2012.
Most teens are still excited about driving. Only 14 percent responded that they were too fearful to drive. Still, data shows that fewer teens are getting their driver’s licenses than in the past.
A study conducted by the University of Michigan shows 80 percent of teens aged 17-19 had their license in 1983, compared to sixty percent today. Economics may be one reason: cars cost a lot more today than they did thirty years ago, as does fuel and insurance premiums. Better access to public transportation may be another reason.
What are kids excited about as it relates to driving? According to the survey, about 28 percent claim “freedom and independence” and about one in ten said getting to work or school and/or helping transport members of the family.
When asked to list the most challenging part of learning to drive, about 35 percent claimed it was getting a grasp on advanced skills such as driving on the highway, alongside big trucks and parallel parking; over one-in-five said understanding the language and words on the driver’s exam; and 15 percent cited feelings of nervousness and emotional pressure.
Parent is First Teacher For Many Young Drivers
For most young drivers, a parent is their first driving instructor. But, if the information in the survey is accurate, parents may need to do a better job when it comes to modeling appropriate driving behavior. About 42 percent of survey participants claim they have witnessed their parent texting while driving, and listed that as the most dangerous activity they believe their parent engages in behind the wheel.
Respondents also claim to have seen their parents lose focus on the road due to distractions ranging from applying makeup to smoking to eating. Thirteen percent say they have observed their parents not wearing a seatbelt and nine percent claim to have witnessed their parents drive aggressively.
Many parents remember how excited they were to get a driver’s license. It may be hard to understand why any teen wouldn’t be excited. It’s important for parents to recognize that the fears are legitimate and to be able to help our teens feel confident about getting behind the wheel. We can do that by modeling proper driving behavior ourselves and ensuring our children receive adequate driving lessons from a competent, certified instructor.
If you or your loved one has been involved in a drunk driving accident, please contact the Michigan Defense Law for competent, compassionate legal assistance.