DEARBORN – As summer begins, what can be the most fun season of the year for teens can also be the riskiest. A new survey conducted by Penn Schoen Berland and commissioned by Ford reveals new insights about teen driving habits and perceptions. The survey polled teen drivers and parents, and reveals some surprising results.
According to a Ford analysis of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data from 2007 to 2011, summer months had the highest number of teen driver fatalities. For 2011, the latest data available, there were 358 teen driver fatalities in traffic crashes during June, July and August, as compared to 271 teen driver fatalities during the winter (December, January and February). But the survey results of 500 teens and 500 parents show more than half of teens (66 percent) and parents (58 percent) believe winter is the most dangerous season for teens on the road.
Distracted driving is a growing concern for parents. The new survey shows teens engage in several distracting activities while behind the wheel, such as:
•62 percent of teen drivers admit to being distracted by others in the car
•61 percent of teens admit to eating or drinking while driving
•42 percent of teens say they turn up the radio so loud they can’t hear vehicles nearby
•51 percent of teens say they listen to an iPod or MP3 player
Yet only 26 percent of parents use a device to enforce driving rules or restrict cell phone use for teens while they are driving, according to the survey. Ford’s MyKey® technology, now enabled on more than 6 million Ford and Lincoln vehicles in the United States, is designed to limit distractions and focus attention on helping teens build safe driving habits. For more information on Ford MyKey, visit www.ford.com/technology.
“Ford has a long record as a safety leader, and continues to work through many channels to help address the risk factors associated with inexperienced drivers,” said Steve Kenner, global director, Automotive Safety Office, Ford Motor Company. “Features such as MyKey and programs such as Ford Driving Skills for Life help parents and teens as they develop the skills needed to control a vehicle, detect hazards and assess driving situations.”
Boys versus girls
Teenage girls are perceived to be safer drivers than teenage boys by both teens and parents, according to the study. Other results show:
•Boys are considered to be more aggressive drivers, according to 87 percent of girls, 78 percent of parents and 73 percent of boys
•Boys are considered more likely to drink and drive, according to 80 percent of girls, 72 percent of boys and 72 percent of parents
•Boys are considered more likely to speed, according to 81 percent of girls, 77 percent of boys and 75 percent of parents
•Girls are considered more likely to use their phones while driving, according to 81 percent of boys, 78 percent of girls and 67 percent of parents
The survey also found that despite reporting lower rates of the riskiest behaviors overall, parents are 40 percent more likely to check their phones while driving than their teenage children (28 percent of parents compared to 20 percent of teens).
Ford is concerned about the safety of new drivers and has reached many teen drivers with its Driving Skills for Life program. In 2013 Ford DSFL is doubling the number of students it reaches with its hands on driving programs to approximately 40,000. This includes visits to at least 40 high schools in Arizona, California, Illinois, Michigan, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia with an array of activities focused on common driving challenges faced by teen drivers. Teens will experience real-world driving situations in a controlled environment using specially equipped vehicles. The hands-on clinics offer professional drivers and activities that build skills in five key areas: driver distraction, speed management, space management, vehicle handling and hazard recognition.
In addition to the hands-on clinics, Ford Driving Skills for Life will reach an additional 150 high schools with its safe driving materials, Web-based learning, partnerships with state highway safety agencies, fun contests and free educational materials for parents and teachers.
More information is available online at DrivingSkillsforLife.com.