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What teens think about distracted driving

We all talk about the problem of teen distracted driving. Insurers have special programs that promote safe driving for teens. Parents rank texting and driving among their top concerns for their teen drivers.

[Get our new eBook: Teen safe driving programs]

But what do teens think about distracted driving themselves? To find out, we asked teen drivers who use TrueMotion Family, our app that helps parents and teens monitor driving behaviors. The full results are below.

“Kids who have grown up with mobile phones have grown up multitasking. It is much easier for us to text and drive.” — Teen driver

At a high level, teens see distracted driving as a societal issue but think we can fix it. Distracted driving is a concern, but drunk driving is worse. After all, distracted driving is something their friends do, not themselves. Over half of teens know someone affected by a distracted driving crash. Parents can help by being good role models. Scary stats don’t work. Punishment for distraction involves taking away (A) the phone or (B) the car. Everyone should turn on Do Not Disturb While Driving, but most people don’t. And more people should use apps like TrueMotion Family.

Distracted driving is a societal problem

Teens recognize the distracted driving problem. But they’re optimistic about the chances of defeating distraction. Nearly 8 in 10 teens think distracted driving is a social epidemic. Over 70% think it’s possible to reduce distracted driving at a societal level.

It’s not me. It’s my friends.

While most teens think distracted driving is a problem, very few of them think they’re part of it. Over 70% of teens say they’ve asked a friend to put down their phone while driving. By contrast, only 28% say they’ve been asked by one of their friends.

TMF Teen Distracted Driving Requests 1

Teens also rate their friends as much more distracted than themselves. When we asked how often their friends drive distracted, 30% said either “a lot” or “all the time.” Only 9% of teens said they were distracted “a lot” or “all the time.” 

TMF Teen Distracted Driving Frequency

Only 10% of teens have been in a crash caused by a distracted driver themselves. But 1 in 2 teens knows someone affected by a distracted driving crash.

TMF Teen Distracted Driving Crashes

Friends may be the problem, but they could also be the solution. 85% of teens said they would stop driving distracted if a friend asked them to put down their phone.

Teens say drunk driving is worse than distracted driving

Distracted driving may be a societal issue, but it’s not a top concern for teens. Over 50% of teens said getting into college was a top concern. Romantic relationships, depression/anxiety, and drunk driving were a concern for 38% of teens. Texting and driving was a concern for 31% of teens.

TMF Teen Distracted Driving Concerns

60% of teens say texting and driving and drinking and driving are equally bad. Another 35% said drinking and driving is worse. Only 3% said texting and driving is worse.

My dad told me that if I get caught texting and driving he was going to take my car. 🤷🏻 — Teen driver

When teens do use apps in the car, they say they’re primarily for music and maps. The top offender for active phone use is messaging apps. Social media apps follow.

TMF Teen Distracted Driving Apps 1

Texting and driving seems to be socially acceptable among teens when they’re stopped. 51% say it’s OK to text at a stop sign. 61% say the same for red lights. (Remember, it takes 27 seconds to fully refocus on the road after texting.)

TMF Teen Distracted Driving Acceptable

Tech & role models could be a solution

Teens don’t have a strong opinion about what their state government is doing to combat distracted driving. 46% don’t agree or disagree that their state is doing enough. However, unlike parents, where 89% support handheld cellphone ban legislation, only 54% of teens support a handheld ban.

Many teens mention Do Not Disturb While Driving as a potential solution. However, only 33% of them have it activated. 60% haven’t turned it on and 7% don’t know what it is.

TMF Teen Distracted Driving Do Not Disturb While Driving

Teens also said that apps like TrueMotion Family could be a good solution to reduce distracted driving. Over 50% of them think that more people should use an app like TrueMotion Family.

Don’t annoy us with distracted driving stuff. It just makes us wanna do it more.  — Teen driver

When we asked teens how they think parents can help them reduce distracted driving, there were a few core themes. One was having open and honest conversations about the dangers of distracted driving with their teen. They said to focus on the real-world damage distraction inflicts instead of scary statistics. On that point, over 70% of teens say scary distracted driving stats don’t work.

TMF Teens Distracted Driving Scary Stats

Teens also said they want their parents to be role models for them with distracted driving. They want their parents to put down their phones when they drive. TrueMotion Family allows parents to monitor their teens’ driving behavior. It also enables teens to see how their parents drive. This open view of family driving allows parents to prove that they’re practicing what they preach.

You could micromanage their driving, but it builds a certain level of distrust between the parent and young adult. — Teen driver

When parents catch their teen driving distracted, teens recommended various punishment strategies. Many suggested taking their phone or car away – the same as many parents. Others said to make the teen pay for gas. Some said to simply have a conversation around distracted driving and set rules and consequences if it continues.

What do you think of the results? Are teens taking the problem of distracted driving seriously enough? Are they blaming their friends too much? Is Do Not Disturb While Driving or an app like TrueMotion Family the best solution? Let us know on chat.

Categories: Blog,Distracted Driving