Teen Safe Driving

Shifting Teen Attitudes

Shifting Teen Attitudes: The State of Teen Driving 2009 found that while today's teen drivers have similar attitudes and behaviors behind the wheel than teens in 2005, shifts have taken place in unexpected areas. The survey was conducted by online interviews among 1,063 teens online nationally in May 2009 by TRU Research.

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Highlights from the Study

Texting is teen's biggest distraction behind the wheel.

  • More than 49% of teens report texting as a distraction, up from 31% in 2005
  • 82% of teens report using cell phones while driving, while 23% admit to drinking and driving
  • More than 60% of teens worry about getting into a car accident, but still admit to practicing distracting or harmful actions while driving

Girls express a new need for speed.

  • Nearly half (48%) of girls admit they are likely to speed more than 10 m.p.h. over the limit, versus 36% of boys
  • 16% of girls describe their driving as aggressive, up from 9% in 2005

More girls than boys report that they will drive distracted in the future.

  • 51% of girls are likely to use a cell phone to talk, text or email while driving, versus 38% of boys
  • 84% of girls are likely to adjust music selection or volume while driving, versus only 69% of boys

Driving aggression and speeding among teen boys is decreasing.

  • 13% of boys describe their driving as aggressive, down from 20% in 2005
  • 19% of boys admit to speeding 10 m.p.h. or more over the speed limit, down from 25% in 2005
  • Fewer boys (46%) report being in car crashes in 2009 compared to 58% in 2005

Teens still feel "it's them, not me" when it comes to aggressive driving.

  • A majority of teens (65%) are confident in their own driving skills
  • 77% of teens admit they have felt unsafe with another teen's driving
  • 82% of teens want to be known as a safe/skilled driver
  • Only 23% of teens agree that most teens are good drivers

Fewer teens are willing to speak up in risky driving situations.

  • Only 59% of teens will speak up if they are scared or uncomfortable as a passenger
  • Girls are less likely to speak up than boys - 53% of girls reported they would say something about someone's driving, versus 66% of boys
  • Fear of social rejection and being ignored top the list of reasons why teens don't speak up when they feel unsafe as a passenger

African Americans take fewer risks while driving.

  • Nearly half (47%) of African American teens say they would never take risks while driving as compared to 32% of all teens
  • An overwhelming majority of African American teens (71%) would likely speak up if they are scared/uncomfortable about someone's driving

Hispanic teens report troubling driving attitudes, but credit their peers as safe drivers.

  • 30% of Hispanic teens admit to drinking and driving versus 23% of all teens
  • About 30% of Hispanic teens say "speeding is fun", versus 19% of all teens
  • 23% of Hispanic teens say their licensed friends are safe drivers

Teens report safer driving practices than their parents.

  • More teens (22%) consider parents in the car more distracting than having their friends in the car (14%)
  • 92% of teens report wearing their seatbelt and only 88% report that their parents wear seatbelts
  • 84% of teens signal when changing lanes while 76% report that their parents signal when changing lanes
  • More than 80% of teens rate parents as their No. 1 driving influence, but are spending less behind-the-wheel time with their parents