Thursday, 03 August 2017 17:30

Older, Not Wiser: New Study Reveals Teens Become Riskier Drivers As They Enter Senior Year

Liberty Mutual Insurance and SADD provide tips and tools on how to navigate safe driving behavior with teens

BOSTON, Aug. 2, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- As teens get ready to head back to school this fall, a new study conducted by Liberty Mutual Insurance and SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) finds that older teen drivers are overconfident and perceive themselves as safer drivers despite experiencing more accidents and near misses (57 percent of seniors) than their younger peers (34 percent of sophomores). Parents may be unknowingly opening the door to this behavior as consequences taper off for older drivers. Nearly 70 percent of teens ages 15 and 16 say they would lose their driving privileges if they were to get into an accident whereas only 55 percent of teens 18 and older believe they would experience the same consequence. 

The study also reveals that 75 percent of seniors feel confident in their driving abilities, but with age and experience, comes riskier behaviors such as engaging with phones behind the wheel. Older teen drivers (71 percent of seniors) are more likely to use a phone while driving than younger teen drivers (55 percent of sophomores). This happens most often at a red light or stop sign and while in stop and go traffic.

"It's natural for teens to gain confidence behind the wheel as they get older and log more driving hours," said Dr. Gene Beresin, senior advisor on adolescent psychiatry with SADD and Executive Director of The Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds at Massachusetts General Hospital. "However, this age group is more likely to test the boundaries as consequences for bad driving behaviors decrease and their freedoms and responsibilities at home increase, making them feel more like adults. As a result, it is even more important for parents and teens to have conversations about safe driving practices to avoid potentially putting themselves and others at risk on the road."

In the study, 67 percent of seniors admit to using apps at least sometimes while driving compared to 49 percent of sophomores and 58 percent of juniors. Other dangerous behaviors behind the wheel continue to become more prevalent as teens rise the ranks, including:

Behavior while
Driving

Sophomores

Juniors

Seniors

Changing music via
phone or app

26%

32%

40%

Having 3+ passengers

31%

35%

47%

Speeding

18%

23%

35%

Driving when drowsy

13%

15%

26%

"Older teens are still inexperienced drivers – even if they feel otherwise – as they only have one to two years of real-world practice under their belts. That's why it is important to continue to emphasize the effects and potential consequences of phone use while driving to this age group," said Mike Sample, MS, CSP, lead driving safety expert and technical consultant at Liberty Mutual. "Using an app behind the wheel, even glancing away for a second, can impair your driving ability and set off a chain reaction that could lead to a near miss or crash. Hyper-connected teens must be reminded to always pull over before using their phone. It is just not worth the risk of crashing."

How Parents Can Encourage Safe Driving Behavior with Teens

Parents are key influencers when it comes to teens' behaviors behind the wheel – both their current habits and ones they may pick up as they gain experience and confidence. Dr. Gene Beresin and Mike Sample offer the following tips to help parents encourage safe driving behaviors:

  • Keep practicing: Nearly 40 percent of teens say their parents stop practicing driving with them after they get their license. Teaching shouldn't stop when teens leave the DMV with a license in hand. Parents should continue to drive with their teens and remind them of safe driving behaviors with frequent check-ins and conversations.
  • Hold each other accountable: Mom, dad and teens can all be held accountable and parents can set a good example with today's new monitoring technology like Liberty Mutual's HighwayHero app. The app tracks and scores driving behavior based on factors including phone usage while driving, acceleration, hard braking and speeding and even rewards drivers with a discount on auto insurance in select states.
  • Reward safe driving: Parents can consider regularly rewarding their teen for safe driving. Rather than focusing on the consequences of bad driving behavior, a reward like a break from a specific chore or a $10 gift card, could be an effective way to remind teens to think about their actions while driving.
  • Set expectations: Liberty Mutual Insurance and SADD encourage parents and teens to use the Teen Driving Contract as a conversation starter and discussion guide. This tool covers important safety issues and is an easy roadmap for parents and teens alike to uphold family driving rules. 

For more information, visit www.libertymutual.com/teendriving.

About the Study
Liberty Mutual Insurance and SADD commissioned ORC International to conduct a quantitative survey that measured teen driving attitudes and behaviors. The survey was conducted April-May 2017, among 2,800 teens from high schools across the country. Overall the findings from the Teen Driving Study can be interpreted at a 95 percent confidence interval, with an error margin of 1.9 percent (survey). Error margins for subsets such as licensed drivers will be wider. Additionally, the study included a survey of 1,000 parents of licensed teenage drivers that has an overall error margin of 3.1 percent. 

About Liberty Mutual Insurance
Liberty Mutual Insurance helps people preserve and protect what they earn, build, own and cherish.  Keeping this promise means we are there when our policyholders throughout the world need us most.

In business since 1912, and headquartered in Boston, Mass., today Liberty Mutual is a diversified insurer with operations in 30 countries and economies around the world. The company is the fourth largest property and casualty insurer in the U.S. based on 2016 direct written premium data as reported by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.   Liberty Mutual is ranked 75th on the Fortune 100 list of largest corporations in the U.S. based on 2016 revenue. The company employs over 50,000 people in over 800 offices throughout the world. 

The fifth-largest auto and home insurer in the U.S., Liberty Mutual (libertymutual.com) sells full lines of coverage for automobile, homeowners, valuable possessions, personal liability, and individual life insurance. The company is an industry leader in affinity partnerships, offering car and home insurance to employees and members of more than 15,000 companies, credit unions, professional associations and alumni groups.

About SADD
SADD, Students Against Destructive Decisions, the nation's leading peer-to-peer youth education, prevention, and activism organization, is committed to empowering young people to lead initiatives in their schools and communities.  Founded in 1981, SADD today has thousands of chapters in middle schools, high schools and colleges.  SADD highlights prevention of many destructive behaviors and attitudes that are harmful to young people, including underage drinking, other drug use, risky and impaired driving, and teen violence and suicide.  To become a Friend of SADD or for more information, visit sadd.orgparentteenmatters.org or follow SADD on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

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