Survey Says Less than One-Third of Teens are Concerned with Drinking and Driving

A recent Liberty Mutual survey says that 90 percent of teens believe they have an increased chance of drinking and driving during their high school prom, but only 29 percent admit the higher percentage is cause for concern.

While it is often difficult to get a crystal clear picture of teen thought processes, we can assume the usual, oft-discussed factors play into the uninhibited behaviors. The big factor is peer pressure, both in and out of the car. Today’s driver experiences more technological distractions than ever before, with cell phones, GPS units, and satellite radios contributing to keeping focus off the road. Throw alcohol into the mix and you get an illegally intoxicated and distracted teen driver that is, apparently, unaware of their actions. High school graduations are also cited as especially irresponsible times, with teens being 79-percent more likely to get behind the wheel after drinking and just 25 percent acknowledging the bigger danger.

“Newspapers, television, YouTube and Facebook are rife with tales of tragedy from reckless driving on prom and graduation nights, yet an ‘it won’t happen to me’ attitude continues to be so pervasive among our teens,” said Dave Melton, a driving safety expert with the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety. “Add to the alcohol factor distractions like texting or talking on the cell phone while driving, or the greater likelihood of multiple people in the car, and the crash potential is very real.”

Because we were all teenagers at one point in our lives, it’s easy to point fingers at the youngest demographic. But let’s not forget the importance of proper adult guidance during the early driving years. The survey found that 52 percent of teens were not responsible for adhering to any sort of family safety rules. But, despite any preconceived images of youthful rebellion, 64 percent of the queried teens said they would be willing to sign a written driving contract with their parents/guardians and lay down groundwork for a more communicative teen-parent driving relationship.

Open communication channels would not be without merit. Seventy-one percent of teens say a formal contract would increase their parents’ trust in them, and 55 percent believe it would give them extra freedom. These numbers are in stark contrast to the percentage of teens whose parents have either not spoken with or only talked with once about driving safety: 22 percent. To see how safe driving agreements could alter teen behaviors, check out the flyer above.

The survey was conducted in coordination with Students Against Destructive Decisions and polled high school students from across the nation. A series of five focus groups were held in Boston, Denver, and Minneapolis, while 2531 additional juniors and seniors were interviewed from 25 randomly selected high schools.

Whether we admit to it or not, it is nearly impossible to stamp out teen drinking. Turning the spotlight to our readers, did your parents or guardians take a proactive approach when you were coming up through the driving ranks?

Source: Liberty Mutual