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Teens are learning distracted driving behavior from parents

Consumer Reports News: September 18, 2012 04:08 PM

Risky driving behavior by teenagers is too often learned through observing their parents, according to a new survey. About 90 percent of the teens report observing their parents talking on a cell phone while driving, while 88 percent said they saw them speed.

Conducted by Liberty Mutual Insurance and SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions), the survey of 1,700 11th and 12th graders finds these teens witness frequent, dangerous driving behavior by their parents. And the teens mimic these bad practices.

Talking on cell phone while driving
91% 90%
88 94
59 78
Driving without a seat belt
47 33
Driving under the influence of alcohol
20 15
Driving under the influence of marijuana
7 16

"The best teacher for a teen driver is a good parental role model," says Stephen Wallace, senior advisor for policy, research and education at SADD.

Whether you're a parent, friend, or sibling, set a good example. Stop the car in a safe place if you need to use a cell phone. And if you're riding with a driver compelled to talk or text with a phone, offer to do it for them. Using a phone behind the wheel can be tempting, but the risks are real and truly not worth it.

Driving under the influence or not wearing a seatbelt are foolish choices. These are not new risks and the consequences are well established. Any responsible driver knows better.

For more information, visit our guide to distracted driving.

Jeff Bartlett

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