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Survey: Teen drivers have a lot to think about

POSTED: June 13, 2013 8:17 p.m.

While an overwhelming majority of teen drivers felt a personal sense of responsibility for themselves (98 percent) and their passengers (99 percent), many admitted to feeling helpless about their own crash risk.


Two out of five licensed or permitted teen drivers indicated they have no control over whether they will get into a car crash, according to a national survey conducted in March among 655 14-18-year-olds by State Farm and Harris Interactive.


When teen drivers were asked what concerns them while driving, only 55 percent were concerned with their own lack of driving experience.  However, 80 percent of teens said they were concerned about other drivers on the road.


Survey results also showed:
• Teens that have their license (49 percent) were also significantly more likely to admit to texting/reading a text while driving than those teens that just had a permit (6 percent).
• 93 percent of teens stated they wear their seat belt all of the time and 76 percent of teens indicated having no more than one peer passenger in their car.


“Most teens are getting the message when it comes to risky driving behaviors like not wearing their seat belts or having too many passengers in their car; but less are aware of the dangers of their inexperience,” said Chris Mullen, director of technology research at State Farm. “There is also still room for improvement when it comes to interacting with electronic devices while driving; teens should be aiming for zero percent usage.”


Ericka Thomas, a 17-year-old Texan, was driving her younger sister home during a heavy rain storm last December when her car hydroplaned and began to fishtail then crashed.


“You can say getting into a car crash will never happen to you all day long,” Thomas said.  “You can’t control everything, but you have to be able trust what your parents and driving instructor taught you.”


Both sisters walked away from the crash unscathed. Thomas relied on skills she learned from her parents and instructors, preventing what could have been a much worse wreck.


“Safe driving is more than just staying in between the yellow lines.  It’s a really important responsibility,” she said.


Car crashes are the number one cause of death among teens in North America.


“It’s promising that almost all teen drivers surveyed feel a strong sense of responsibility for their own safety and the safety of their passengers,” said Mullen. “Since previous research shows that 75 percent of teen crashes are caused by driver error, it is troubling that so many believe they have no control over whether or not they will crash.”


About the survey
This survey was conducted by telephone within the U.S. between March 20-25 by Harris Interactive among 655 14-18-year-olds. Figures for age, sex, geographic region and race were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population.

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