New Survey: Driving Safety is Parents’ Greatest Concern for Teens on Prom Night
When it comes to prom night, parents’ greatest fear for their teens is safety in a motor vehicle – outranking concerns over sexual activity, alcohol consumption and drug use, according to a new Harris Interactive survey commissioned by DaimlerChrysler. Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of parents indicated a driving related concern as their top worry for their teens on prom night, including drinking and driving (32 percent), car crashes (23 percent) and reckless driving (8 percent).
Overall, teen driving safety continues to be a top concern for parents of teenagers. Compared to other health or safety risks, such as pregnancy, suicide, drug or alcohol abuse, nearly half (43 percent) of parents of teens ages 15-18 point to driving safety issues as their primary worry – referencing driving safely and motor vehicle crashes.
Motor vehicle crashes are the No. 1 killer of teens. More than 450,000 teen passengers and drivers were injured and more than 5,500 died as a result of vehicle crashes in 2005. In fact, one third of all 16-year-old licensed drivers were involved in a motor vehicle crash in 2005.
“Prom and graduation nights should be times teens remember for the rest of their lives, yet these celebratory times also combine some of the deadliest factors for motor vehicle crashes: driving late at night, driving with multiple passengers and drinking and driving,” said Eric Ridenour, Chief Operating Officer - Chrysler Group and father of two teenagers. “All of these activities increase a teen’s crash risk. And when you’re looking at multiple risk factors in combination with each other, the chance of getting into a crash increases exponentially.”
To help keep teens safe during prom and graduation season, DaimlerChrysler offers the following safety tips for parents:
- Take your teen out of the driver’s seat and consider alternate transportation (public transportation, taxi or limo) for the evening.
- Require your teen and all passengers to always buckle up.
- Limit the number of passengers with whom your teen drives.
- Remind teens to take extra care when driving at night.
- Insist that your teen obey all the rules of the road, including never speeding.
- Remember that the legal drinking age is 21. Insist that your teen never drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or ride in a car with friends who are under the influence.
Research shows that 50 percent of fatalities that occur with a teen at the wheel happen after dark, even though most teen driving occurs during daylight hours.
Teen drivers, ages 16 and 17, driving with even one teen passenger are 50 percent more likely to be involved in a crash than when driving alone. With two teen passengers in the vehicle, the risk more than doubles. With three or more teen passengers, it’s nearly four times more likely that teens will be involved in a crash than if they were driving alone.
According to the DaimlerChrysler survey conducted by Harris Interactive, parents also expressed concern over teens’ lack of experience with driving. Sixty-four percent believe that the most common risk factor for teens as it relates to car crashes is the fact that they simply do not have enough experience behind the wheel.
Chrysler Group’s Road Ready Teens (www.roadreadyteens.org) program offers tips and tools for parents to help ease teens into driving, including a free guide that outlines how to set and enforce driving rules at home. Based on research and principles advocated by the nation’s top safety organizations, the program’s tips and tools help teens gain the necessary driving experience and maturity behind the wheel before tackling high-risk driving situations.
The research behind the Road Ready Teens guidelines has been shown to reduce crash risk by nearly one-third. Many of the recommendations that underpin Road Ready Teens have been applied to graduated driver licensing (GDL) laws enacted in most states. However, no state law includes the entire slate of guidelines, which includes a zero tolerance policy for alcohol and drug use, mandatory seat belt use for teens and their passengers, and requires teens to obey all of the rules of the road, including never speeding. States with the strongest GDL laws have seen reductions of teen crashes of up to 25 to 35 percent.
As part of an innovative online public education effort to reach teens with critical messages about driving safety, DaimlerChrysler has released a new online video game, StreetWise Version 2.0. The game uses the latest advances in Internet gaming and graphics to allow teens to experience high-risk situations in an entertaining, safe, virtual environment. In the game, teens learn critical lessons about the consequences of making high-risk decisions while behind the wheel.
Road Ready Teens provides teens with safe driving resources in a method that is most likely to attract their attention. Survey results from the study conducted by Harris Interactive indicated that educational materials geared toward driving safety are most likely to catch teens’ attention if presented in the form of a DVD/video (63 percent) or a more interactive medium like a Web site (61percent) or a video/computer game (54 percent).
“We want to be able to reach teens where they are already,” said Ridenour. “In developing StreetWise Version 2.0, we have created an interactive method to deliver critical safe driving messages to teens through the Web in a fun and innovative way.”
To raise awareness of safe driving among teens during prom and graduation season, DaimlerChrysler is sponsoring an online sweepstakes featuring StreetWise Version 2.0. Teens will be able to play StreetWise Version 2.0 and enter to win prizes. The sweepstakes will run from May 3 through June 14, 2007.