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Teen Drivers Less Likely to Text With Passengers

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Peer pressure isn’t always bad. A new survey from Bridgestone Americas reports that teen drivers admit to driving distracted less frequently when passengers are in the car.

While that news sounds promising, the actual results of the study are mixed. Bridgestone polled 2,000 new drivers in the 16-21 age bracket, and 71% said reading texts and emails behind the wheel is dangerous, but 45% admitted to engaging in that behavior anyway. Similarly, nearly 80% said sending texts and emails while driving is unacceptable, but 37% admitted to doing just that.  

The good news is that the numbers go down when passengers get in the car. The results of the study show that 95% of teens admitted to reading texts and emails in the car when alone, but only 32% will do it when friends are in the car and only 7% when parents are along for the ride. Bridgestone says the results mean teens know it’s wrong to drive distracted and think they’ll be looked down on by their friends if caught doing it — but there’s still a lot of work to be done.

“The fact these actions are becoming socially unacceptable shows progress in the effort to raise awareness of the risks and consequences of distracted driving, but with this many teens admitting to engaging in the behavior privately, there is still much work to be done. We have to continue to reinforce that it’s not okay to drive distracted alone or with others. It only takes one time to cause a crash that can injure yourself or someone else,” Angela Patterson, manager of Bridgestone America’s Teens Drive Smart Program, said in a statement.

The study also revealed the following trends in teen driver behavior:

  • More than 90% of young drivers admitted to posting on social media sites when alone, but only 29% post when with friends in the car and only 5% when driving with their parents.
  • Three-fourths of those surveyed admit to watching a video when alone in the car, 45% when with friends and 7% when with their parents.
  • More than 63% say they take extra precautions to make sure they don’t get “too distracted.”
  • When comparing the danger of driving distractions to the danger of texting while driving, teens viewed analog distractions, such as eating or driving while drowsy, less dangerous than texting behind the wheel.
  • Some 65% of young drivers admit to driving while drowsy.
  • While 33% admitted to sending a text or email while driving on the highway, 80% admitted to reading at a stop sign; 78% confessed to doing so at a red light.

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Photo of Jennifer Geiger
News Editor Jennifer Geiger joined the automotive industry in 2003, much to the delight of her Corvette-obsessed dad. Jennifer is an expert reviewer, certified car-seat technician and mom of three. She wears a lot of hats — many of them while driving a minivan. Email Jennifer Geiger

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