It’s that time of year – back to school. And teens are ready to hit the road. Some are heading back to high school. Others are heading off to college or already there. Some are driving to school for the first time.
Parents are concerned – and rightly so. Car crashes are the number one teen killer. Phone addiction among teens is at an all-time high. And teens text 15% of the time they’re on the road. It’s a deadly combination.
How do parents deal with all this? Who can they turn to? How are they trying to solve the problem? What’s socially acceptable and what’s not? Can we even solve the distracted driving problem?
We posed these and many other questions to TrueMotion Family parents. These are parents who have downloaded an app to keep track of their teen’s driving behaviors to ensure they drive safely. Over 100 parents shared their thoughts with us earlier this month.
We’ve broken down their answers into five sections: Concerns, insurance, government, social norms, and technology.
What keeps parents up at night
Parents with teens have a lot to worry about. But none more than texting and driving. 78% of parents rated it as a concern.
Depression/anxiety and drinking and driving were the second highest concern at 42% each. Getting into a good college (36%), drug use (32%), and alcohol consumption (26%), school violence (16%), and online bullying (12%) followed.
Texting and driving is the new drunk driving
Texting and driving is such a concern that you could call it the new drunk driving.
90% of parents say texting and driving and drinking and driving are equally bad for their teens. 5% say texting is worse. 5% say drinking and driving is worse.
The scariest distracted driving stat
Stats on distracted driving are nearly limitless. Just read our blog and social feeds for a taste. The one thing that’s clear from all these statistics is that there is no one statistic that will get everyone to stop texting and driving. However, some are more effective than others.
The overwhelmingly scariest stat for parents is this: Texting and driving increases the chance of crashing 600% – 41% of parents chose it. The number of deaths caused by distracted driving – 9 per day – comes in a distant second with 20%. Only 12% chose the third most popular stat – 55% of drivers would text and drive if it were legal.
Despite the dangers of distracted driving and the scary statistics, parents are optimistic that we can solve distracted driving as a societal issue. 80% of them think we’ll find a solution.
And even though texting and driving is parents’ number one concern for their teens, they say it’s acceptable in certain situations. 22% of parents think it’s socially acceptable for their teen to text at a stop sign. 29% think it’s OK for them to text at a red light. Those numbers increase when it comes to the parents themselves. 24% of parents says it’s fine for them to text at a stop sign. 34% say it’s OK at a red light – 5% higher than their teen. Remember the stat from above – it takes 27 seconds to fully refocus on the road after texting, even at stop signs and red lights.
Auto insurers are in a unique position to help reduce distracted driving. Whether through rate hikes for bad behavior or rewards for safe driving, their scale and distribution is unlike any other potential solution.
Yet, only 17% of parents think their insurance company is doing enough to combat distracted driving. For parents, insurers are not the solution today.
But that could change. And there could be significant financial incentives for early movers. For all the auto insurers reading this – 54% of parents would change their insurance to a company that offers a program that reduces distracted driving for their teen.
Like auto insurers, state governments have a disproportionate opportunity to reduce distracted driving. Handheld bans and strong enforcement are their most powerful tool. States like Oregon have made it work – after their handheld ban went live distracted driving plummeted in the state. But only 16 states have a ban like this. Massachusetts, where our HQ is located, recently refused to pass a hands-free bill, despite the bill having 80% support from residents and the governor.
Among TrueMotion Family parents, 89% support a cellphone ban while driving. It’s for reasons like this that it should come as no surprise that only 14% of parents think their state government is doing enough to combat distracted driving.
Without large organizations like insurers and local governments leading the charge to reduce distracted driving, many parents are creating their own solutions – like downloading apps. When we asked TrueMotion parents why they downloaded TrueMotion, the overwhelming response was to track their teen’s driving behaviors to make sure they were being safe. One of their top pieces of advice to parents with a teen driver was to download an app like TrueMotion Family. 88% of TrueMotion Family parents think more people should use similar apps.
Apps like TrueMotion Family help increase awareness for distracted driving. 63% of parents think TrueMotion Family has made their teen more aware of their distracted driving. 65% of parents say they’re more aware of their own distraction. 84% of parents say TrueMotion Family has inspired them to have conversations about distracted driving with their teen.
One area where technology has apparently fallen short is with the tech giants’ efforts to reduce distracted driving. Both Apple and Google have introduced Do Not Disturb While Driving features to iOS and Android. However, even among a population like parents who list texting and driving as one of their top concerns, Do Not Disturb While Driving has minimal penetration. Among TrueMotion Family parents, only 28% have Do Not Disturb While Driving activated. 16% don’t know what it is. 56% have not activated it.
Stay tuned for more from our TrueMotion Family parents. We’ll break down their responses to questions like how they convinced their teen to download a safe driving app and what they do when they discover their teen has been texting and driving.
Questions in the meantime? Hit us up on chat.