Do as I say, not as I do. As a training tool, that admonition has long proven ineffective. In the case of distracted driving and other dangerous practices behind the wheel, a new study has shown that teens will emulate their parents' poor driving habits and car accidents will often be the result. In a survey conducted by Liberty Mutual Insurance and Students Against Destructive Decisions, two-thirds of teens indicated that their parents do not obey the driving rules they set for their children. Unsurprisingly, roughly the same percentage of teens ignore the safe driving advice and repeat the poor driving habits of their parents.
The survey reported that teens witnessed their parents engaging in a number of dangerous driving behaviors while the teens were in the vehicle. Those behaviors included talking on cell phones, speeding, sending text messages, driving without a seat belt, drinking and driving, and driving under the influence of marijuana. The vast majority of teens, nearly 90 percent, reported that their parents sped and used cell phones while driving.
In a separate survey of teen driving behavior, 90 percent of teens reported that they had used a cell phone while driving. An additional 94 percent admitted to speeding at least occasionally, with almost half reporting that they regularly drive over the speed limit. If parents hope to change their teens dangerous driving habits, the first step must be to set a positive example. Parents who speed and engage in distracted driving in front of their teens can hardly expect their teens to become model drivers.
Distracted driving is not a safe practice for even the most experienced drivers. While bad habits can be learned from friends or other influences, parents set the tone for their children more than they realize. Parents should talk with their children about safe driving and they should set a positive example by putting away their cell phones and obeying the traffic laws, themselves.
Source: Claims Journal, "Teens Mirror Parents' Distracted Driving Habits: Survey," 20 September 2012