Teen don't comprehend dangerous driving messages

Teens Don’t Fully Comprehend The Message On Driving Safety

A new survey conducted by Liberty Mutual Insurance and Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) was recently published showing that, while teens are getting the message on dangerous driving behaviors, they don’t fully comprehend its meaning and continue to engage in dangerous driving behaviors.

Driving Under the Influence

When asked about the dangers of driving under the influence, teens responded as follows:

  • 86% considered driving under the influence of alcohol to be extremely distracting
  • 5% admitted to sometimes driving under the influence
  • 1% considered it acceptable to drive under the influence

In spite of the above answers, when asked about their own driving behavior:

  • 10% who said they never drove under the influence admitted to sometimes driving after consuming an alcoholic drink.
  • 68% of teens who admitted to driving under the influence admitted to driving after consuming three or more drinks.

Both teens and parents seem to understand the need for designated drivers with 58% of parents urging their teens to use a designated driver if they drink and almost half of teens (48%) say they have used a designated driver. However, the teen’s definition of a designated driver showed area for concern.

  • 21% see no problem in allowing the designated driver to have a small amount of alcohol or drugs as long as they aren’t too impaired to drive.

  • 4% consider the designated driver as the one in their group who seems to be least impaired or the “most sober”.

In 2011, there were 4,347 fatal crashes involving teen drivers (age 15-20 years old) with 1,987 teen drivers killed. Among those teen drivers who were killed:

  • 32% had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .01or higher.

  • 26% had a BAC of .08 or higher.

 Cell Phones and Texting

When it comes to cell phones and texting there also seems to be a disconnect:

  • 96% believe that using a cell phone while driving is at least a little distracting.
  • 62% believe that using a cell phone while driving is very or extremely distracting.


  • 86% admit to using a cell phone while driving.
  • 47% of teens who say they never text while driving admit to texting while at a red light.
  • 68% of teens admit to reading or sending a text while driving.

Teens need to understand the dangers of using a cell phone and texting while driving. They also need to understand that, even while stopped at a red light, they need to remain aware of the driving situation around them.

Parents need to sit down with their teens and start a dialog on the dangers of distracted driving and driving under the influence. Strict limits need to be set and the teen needs to understand that they should pull over and stop if they need to make a call or send or receive a text.

Teens also need to understand that driving with even a small amount of alcohol in their system means that they are impaired and that designated drivers are drivers who haven’t consumed any alcohol or drugs at all.

Parents also need to model their own behavior while driving if they expect their teens to follow the rules.