State Farm survey: teens find drunk driving deadlier than texting, parents should be more involved

State Farm survey: teens find drunk driving deadlier than texting, parents should be more involved

State Farm recently released a new survey of teens between the ages of 14 and 17 that compares more than 650 adolescents’ views on texting while driving versus driving drunk and their perceived likelihood of dying from each behavior.

Of the teens surveyed, 57 percent admitted to texting while driving.

When asked about the fatal consequences of driving while inebriated or texting when in the driver’s seat, more teens believed they would be killed in the long run from driving drunk. A study from 2006 I found at Distraction.gov compared the levels of impairment from cell phone use while driving and being intoxicated and identified similarities in the driver’s delayed ability to react.

Parents should talk to kids about safe driving habits before and after they obtain a license

One key discovery that I found interesting was that parents’ conversations with their kids about driving declined after the teen garnered his or her license. That is particularly concerning given the fact that a new driver is most likely to crash in their first year behind the wheel.

“The conversation should not end when teens get their license,” said Chris Mullen, Director of Technology Research at State Farm, in a press statement. “Through this survey and other teen driver research, we know that ongoing parental involvement in the learning process is key to keeping teen drivers safe behind the wheel.”

With more public education, teens’ opinions could change over time

I think that the fact teenagers believe drunk driving to be deadlier than texting while driving is evidence that the public perception of texting (and distracted driving as a whole) hasn’t quite reached the level of driving while intoxicated.With the ongoing work from the DoT, NHTSA, and states continuing to ban this bad behind-the-wheel behavior; I think that not only our teens, but also a majority of drivers, will view distracted driving as a faux pas.

Teens multitask while texting all the time, but that shouldn’t include driving

There’s also another factor to consider beyond the State Farm survey – teens are accustomed to texting while doing nearly everything. Why would driving be any different in their minds? They have grown up with these technologies at their helm. Cell phones and other mobile devices aren’t a novelty for these young drivers. They not only use these devices more proficiently than older generations do, but they also don’t view them as a separate, stand-alone object.

One could say that teens and phones are almost synonymous; therefore, why would they think that texting while driving is dangerous when they text and walk, text and ride their bikes, text while putting on their makeup, and text while eating dinner at the table with mom and dad?

A person could not go through their daily routine successfully while holding a beer in their hand. Why do we think holding a mobile device in our hands constantly is any different?

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This article was written by

Melanie Batenchuk founded Be Car Chic in 2009 as a way to help consumers make smart decisions when buying and selling their cars. Her prior work at the dealership, trade association and manufacturer levels has provided her a deep understanding of the complex facets within the auto industry, making her a leading woman in her field.

There are 2 comments for this article
  1. Joseph at 6:06 PM

    I think that the question “which is more dangerous: driving under the influence, or distracted driving”, needs some clarification. It should be kept in mind that the higher crash risk for texting only applies for the few seconds/minutes that the driver is engaged in that activity, while alcohol/drugs will impair that same driver for the entire trip, perhaps creating a higher overall crash risk.