Parents can influence teens' driving habits

July 24, 2013 12:00 AM

Toyota recently teamed up with the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute to look at the driving habits of teens. What the study found was that 27 percent of teens in one major U.S. city read a text or email every time they drive, which is in line with the national average. Another 24 percent respond to messages while driving and 22 percent carry on extended text conversations behind the wheel. 

The number of teens who use a cell phone as they drive is a big number - 67 percent - but that pales in comparison to the 83 percent of parents who fiddle with a phone while driving. With so many drivers, both young and old, checking their messages, streaming music and visiting social media sites even as they are behind the wheel, many encounter significant risks on the roads. 

There are a few ways parents can help keep teens safe, including educating them about basic vehicle maintenance they may run into and setting a good example when driving. 

"Driver education begins the day a child's car seat is turned around to face front," said Dr. Tina Sayer, the principal engineer for Toyota's Collaborative Safety Research Center. "The one piece of advice I would give to parents to help them keep newly licensed drivers safe on the road is to always be the driver you want your teen to be." 

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