• More than three quarters of tweens say they will rely heavily on their parents’ advice when they start to drive. Nationally-
• Ford expands award-winning teen safe driving program as 25 percent of teens say they have had no formal driver education training and 83 percent of parents who have seen cutbacks in such program express concern
• Federal statistics show auto crashes remain the No. 1 cause of death for teens and distractions such as eating, grooming and handheld texting are factors in 11 percent of all fatal crashes, including 16 percent of fatal crashes involving teen drivers
TALLAHASSEE, FL.– Tallahassee Ford Lincoln is eager to share results from a new survey that highlights the importance of safe driving habits among parents and the direct impact their habits have on their teen drivers. According to a new national survey commissioned by Ford Motor Company, nearly all parents say they are safe drivers and good models for their kids, but more than half (51 percent) admit their teens and tweens have asked them to slow down, stop talking or texting by hand, or practice other safe-driving behaviors.
An even larger number (80 percent) of teens and tweens have seen their parents engage in risky actions behind the wheel while looking to their elders as driving role models. Meantime, 78 percent of tweens say their mothers and fathers have “a lot of influence” on the way they will drive and 66 percent of teenage drivers say their parents’ actions influence their driving.
“This study underscores the opportunity parents have to instill safe driving habits among their teen drivers,” said Bob Hudson of Tallahassee Ford Lincoln. “If a parent is doing things like eating and handheld texting, teens may be more prone to believe that it’s okay to engage in the same kind of behaviors during their own time behind the wheel. We’re proud that Ford Motor Company continues to be part the solution to keep drivers safe by expanding their safe driving education program like the one recently held at Lincoln High School and by creating more in-vehicle technologies that promote and improve safe driving habits.”
Other key findings from the new survey:
• 82 percent of parents expressed interest in enrolling their child in a safe driving training program, yet less than 20 percent currently do
• With many schools outsourcing driver education programs nationwide, 83 percent of parents who have seen such cuts express concern
• Parents rank more comprehensive driver education programs as the top way to improve safety while teens prioritize new technologies such as voice-controlled, hands-free connectivity systems
Ford continues to invest heavily in new safety technology and ramp up its Driving Skills for Life program by extending its cost-free training to 30 additional markets in 2011, providing parents and new drivers with enhanced tools and driving skills. Tallahassee area teens recently benefited from this program at Lincoln High School in February. To date, 400,000 students have participated in the program, which includes hands-on driving, Web-based learning and tutorials built into school curricula.
Handing over the keys, and advice
“Open communication with your child is vital as they are reaching the driving age” said family communications expert, Dr. Charles Sophy. “First, set a positive example or they won’t take you seriously. Then, take time to talk with them about expectations like curfews, driving destinations and speed limits, and do so on a regular basis. Encourage them to attend local driving clinics or volunteer with community police departments to see first-hand what happens on the road. This can help empower your youngsters to make good decisions.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2009 there were more than 2,300 young (age 15-20 years) driver fatalities and nearly 200,000 young driver injuries in crashes. While inattention or distraction – such as daydreaming, talking with passengers, eating or handheld texting – is a factor reported for 11 percent of all drivers in fatal crashes, it is reported for 16 percent of teen drivers in fatal crashes.
The most compelling research shows distractions that take drivers’ eyes away from the road for an extended period of time are a factor in nearly 80 percent of accidents. Ford’s findings show teens most commonly report their parents are distracted by eating or drinking (57 percent), talking or texting on a handheld phone (42 percent), and other distractions such as grooming (32 percent).
Ford emphasizes through its Driving Skills for Life program and new technologies how to combat these risks after its research showed that teens can be particularly distracted with new electronics. For example, Ford’s research showed teens generally look away from the road longer to perform tasks such as dialing a phone number.
Safer Driving Tools
Ford is also making advancements in auto safety technologies to shape teens’ current and future driving experiences, such as:
• MyKeyTM – Programmable teen-safety feature can limit the vehicle’s top speed (at 65, 70, 75 or 80 mph) and audio volume to 44 percent of total volume. MyKey also encourages safety-belt use by muting the audio system if front occupants aren’t buckled up, and can be programmed to block inappropriate radio content
• SYNC® – Hands-free communication technology links with the users’ cellular phone and music player, so they can more safely make calls and listen to their favorite songs. The “911 Assist” feature helps quickly connect drivers directly to a local emergency operator in the case of an accident
• Intelligent Vehicles – Ford is the first automaker to tour the country with prototypes of “talking vehicles” with advanced WiFi technology that one day could alert drivers of potential collisions they don’t see, reduce traffic congestion and wasted fuel. Intelligent vehicles could potentially help in 81 percent of all police-reported light-vehicle crashes involving unimpaired drivers, according to a NHTSA report
For more information about Ford Driving Skills for Life, visit www.drivingskillsforlife.com to get information about this year’s tour, modules, quizzes, car care and driving tip videos and games. Free educator packets are available for students, parents, educators and community organizations.
About the survey
Commissioned by Kelton Research, the survey offering a cross-generational look at thoughts and behaviors related to driving safety. The survey was conducted by Kelton Research. The respondent sample included 908 people (305 parents of 9-19-year-olds, 302 teens ages 13-19 and 301 tweens ages 9-12).
About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 166,000 employees and about 70 plants worldwide, the company’s automotive brands include Ford and Lincoln. For more information regarding Ford’s products, please visit www.ford.com.
About Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services
Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services works with community partners to advance driving safety, education and American heritage and community life. The Ford Motor Company Fund has operated for more than 60 years with ongoing funding from Ford Motor Company. The award-winning Ford Driving Skills for Life program teaches new drivers through a variety of hands-on and interactive methods. For more information, visit www.community.ford.com.
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Ford Motor Company's southeast grassroots team manages the communications for the company in Florida and Georgia. Through events like Driving Skills for Life and regional town hall meetings, our team works to connect local dealers to their communities.