If your teenager is driving badly, it may be your fault.
According to a recent survey from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 77 percent of drivers age 35 to 55 reported talking on a cell phone while driving—compared with 68 percent of teen drivers.
When it comes to speeding, adults aren’t worse than teenagers, but they’re just as bad. About equal amounts of each age group, 45 percent of teens and 46 percent of adults 35 to 55, reported driving 15 miles over the speed limit on a freeway.
The difference is, for teen drivers, inexperience makes speed and distraction even more dangerous. More than 4,000 of the 14,000 fatal teen driver crashes in the last five years involved speeding, and so far this year, 68 percent of teen driver fatalities in Virginia were related to speeding, according to data reported by the Department of Motor Vehicles and the American Automobile Association.
“Lack of experience combined with dangerous behaviors behind the wheel can have deadly consequences,” said Martha Mitchell Meade, the manager of public and government affairs for AAA’s southern region.
In a new AAA survey, driving instructors identified speeding as one of the top three mistakes young drivers make. Distraction and poor visual scanning—or having “tunnel vision” and failing to be aware of their surroundings as a whole—are the other two.
Parents can make a difference, instructors said.
AAA recommends having conversations early and regularly about the dangers of speeding and distraction, taking the time to practice driving with their teens in varying conditions, adopting and enforcing a parent-teen driving agreement that sets family rules for the road, and leading by example and minimizing distractions and speeding when they are driving.
“Parents of teen drivers are urged to lead by example each and every time they drive and to coach teens towards good driving behaviors before, during and after the learning-to-drive process,” Meade said.