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Do Parents Really Know What Their Teen Drivers Are Doing?

By Jeff Gilbert, CBS Detroit

DETROIT — (WWJ) Parents often think their teen drivers are limiting the number of drivers in their cars, and staying off their smart phones, but the teens admit to very different behavior behind the wheels. This comes in a study of teen drivers and their parents done by State Farm Insurance.

“What we found was somewhat of a disconnect between parents view of their teens behaviors and what teens were telling us in terms of their views and their behaviors,” said Chris Mullen, director of technology research for State Farm.

LINK–State Farm Teen Driving Study

The largest disconnect was in the area of passengers in the vehicle. Mullen says 70 percent of parents said they believed their teenage sons and daughters followed laws restricting the number of passengers a new driver could carry. But, only 43 percent of teens said they followed the law.

“For teen drivers in particular, passengers provide a distraction, especially other teen passengers,” said Mullen.

These driving restrictions are at the heart of Graduated Driver Licensing laws in most states, which slowly allow drivers more privileges as they gain experience.

Mullen says State Farm did the survey to see how well teenagers were following those laws.

“We know that Graduated Driver Licensing law restrictions work. They are an effective intervention.”

There is a difference, Mullen says, between having other teen drivers in the car, and having parents in the car with teens. The parents, she says, often act as another set of eyes and ears.

There were a number of other disconnects between what parents and teens say about their driving behavior, with teens more likely to admit to driving late at night, texting and driving and talking on smart phones.

The best way to make sure a teenager is following the laws, Mullen says, is to have an ongoing conversation about the importance of safety behind the wheel, and to keep monitoring your son our daughter’s driving behavior.

“The communication is key,” she said. “Our previous research tells us that teens who say that their parents monitor and set rules were half as likely to be in a crash.“

Connect with Jeff Gilbert
AutoBeat Reporter
Twitter: @jefferygilbert

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