Survey: Parents, Friends Model Bad Texting Habits for Teens

Almost half of teens text while driving even though almost all know it is dangerous—and at least a part of the reason can be attributed to bad examples set by the people around them, according to a new survey commissioned by AT&T that adds to previous research by insurance companies and other groups.

The online survey of 1,300 teenage motorists, conducted by the Pew Research Center, found that a whopping 97 percent say they know texting behind the wheel is dangerous, but 43 percent admit to engaging in the practice.

Seventy-five percent of the survey’s teenage respondents believe that texting while driving is “very dangerous,” but 61 percent glance at their phone behind the wheel. Almost as many, 60 percent, text while at a red light even though 70 percent believe that the behavior is dangerous.

Behavior Encouraged by Peer Pressure, Bad Models

Teens may be promoting bad driving behaviors among themselves, with a huge 89 percent saying that they expect a reply to a text or email within five minutes or less, according to the survey, which also found that 61 percent of respondents say that they have seen friends text, read or send an email as they drove.

Seventy-five percent of teens report that texting is “common” among their friends.

Seventy-seven percent say that they have heard that they should not text while driving from an adult even though adults do it “all the time.” According to the survey, 41 percent of teens report seeing their parents text behind the wheel.

The survey also found opportunities to promote awareness, with 62 percent of teens saying that reminders from parents about the dangers of distracted driving would stop them from engaging in the behavior.

Some Texting Violations Carry Insurance Implications

Although distracted driving campaigns often focus on its sometimes deadly results, texting behind the wheel can also be a financially costly habit.

Thirty-nine states prohibit all drivers from texting behind the wheel, while 32 states ban the use of cell phones for new drivers. But different states and insurance companies apply different enforcement measures.

Texting citations sometime entail simple fines while others are categorized as moving violations that will show up on the offender’s record and may make it harder to locate affordable auto insurance.

Last week, Alabama finalized a texting ban with relatively harsh enforcement. Each violation of the new law carries a two-point penalty to a driving record that insurers can view as grounds to raise a policyholder’s insurance premiums.

About Matthew Morisset
Matthew Morisset is a proud alumnus of the University of Redlands, where he obtained a degree in English Literature. Utilizing his passion for analysis and writing, Matthew looks for important trends in the auto insurance industry and their implications for consumers and the market as a whole.

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