Teens texting: still a problem

Despite research showing their first year of driving is the most dangerous, three out of four teens still think they are invincible. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the crash rate per mile driven is twice as high for 16-year-olds as it is for 18- and 19-year-olds.

These results came from a national survey conducted in July by State Farm and Harris Interactive.
The survey also found teens don’t always practice what they preach. While young drivers are speaking up more when they notice distracted driving, 34 percent say they still text and drive.
“State Farm has conducted research with The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia ® that revealed a lack of awareness regarding the high crash risk for novice drivers,” says Chris Mullen, Director of Technology Research at State Farm. “Most teen drivers agree inexperience makes them less safe as drivers.  It’s equally important to understand that getting a driver’s license, while an important milestone, does not make one ‘experienced’.  There is still much to learn on the road to being a safe driver.  Research by the Center for Disease Control and others have shown that the first year on the road is the most dangerous for teens – so extra care is warranted”.
And some teens are waiting to get that license, specifically teenage girls.  Although our survey found 54 percent of teens say they have or will get their driver’s license within one month of being eligible to drive, 43 percent said they would wait slightly, getting their license within two or more months of being eligible. Of those that said they would wait more than one month, teen girls were twice as likely as teen boys to state their reason as not believing their driving skills were proficient enough to get full licensure.
Other survey findings:
  • While a passenger in a car, nearly four in five teens (78%) said they spoke up and pointed out a driver’s distracted behavior.  Once raising the issue, 84 percent said the driver listened and stopped driving distracted.
  • Of the nearly one in five teens (16%) who did not point out the distracted behavior, almost half (48%) stated they felt the driver could handle the distraction so they did not speak up.
  • The survey also indicated that while the majority of teens tell others not to text and drive, about a third still engage in the behavior themselves.  In the survey, 34 percent indicated they had engaged in texting while driving.
“It was very promising to see so many teens voice their concerns about this issue and see that the drivers listened to them and took action,” Mullen said.  “Research tells us that texting while driving can be just as dangerous as drinking and driving.  More education and conversations need to occur so teens understand that no one can handle driving distracted.”