A boy looks at his father while he drives the truck.

Teens Inherit Parents’ Driving Habits

It has been said the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Safe driving is everyone’s responsibility, and the fact is, today’s teen drivers really do learn most of what they know about driving directly from their parents.

They’ve watched their parents behind the wheel since they were old enough to sit in a car seat – and whether Mom and Dad realize it or not, the observations children make as passengers ultimately serve to be the unofficial version of Driver’s Ed.

More often than not, parents and guardians feel compelled to lecture and shake a finger at beginning drivers, ordering them to “Never text and drive!” and “Always wear a seat belt!” However, the most effective and fundamental approach is simply to lead by example.

Numerous studies conducted over the years have correlated the driving habits of parents and those of their rising teen drivers. Organizations such as the National Safety Council, Students Against Destructive Decisions (S.A.D.D.), and the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) have found that, by and large, teens whose parents engage in unsafe driving habits are much more likely to engage in those very same driving behaviors, as opposed to other teen drivers.

In fact, a study conducted by S.A.D.D. in 2012 found that 60% of high school students claim that their driving habits are influenced most heavily by those of their parents. That’s a lot to account for, considering that of the 1,700 students surveyed, 88% have observed their parents speeding and 59% have observed their parents texting while driving.

In this critical stage for teens, parents have an opportunity to help mold their children’s driving habits for the better. Whether it’s driving defensively, choosing to wear a safety belt, or simply not engaging in activities that would distract them from driving, parents should not only exhibit the best driving practices for their own safety, but in the interest of the ones looking up to them as well.

A great way parents can be effective driving coaches is by staying involved in their teen’s development as motor vehicle operators. If you’re a parent looking for a proactive, hands-on approach, download the GEICO Parent-Teen Driving Contract, which helps parents and teens focus on safe driving habits together.

This agreement emphasizes specific rules to mitigate aggressive and distracted driving habits while promoting safe ones – not only for teens but parents as well.

With GEICO’s Parent-Teen Driving Contract and a two-way commitment from parents and teens alike, these up-and-coming drivers will be well on the road to much safer driving.

By Steven Scott

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  1. Raylin Sutter says,

    I completely agree that it’s important to set a good example of driving for your children. My dad is a very aggressive driver and that really influenced me when I was starting drive. However, I was taught to be more defensive at driving school and so that helped me to become a better driver. That is why I make sure to always drive carefully when I have my children in the car. My oldest is only fourteen and has a couple more years before he drives, but I can’t just wait to be a good example then. My habits influence him now.

  2. Manuel Aponte says,

    This article is based on real facts. Kids are a fotocopy of parents on driving habits at least at the begining. This search findings are really helpful!!!! Thanks for sharing it.