Ford Survey: Parents Say They Drive Safe But Teens Observe Troubling Risks

Startling statistics on what U.S. teens and tweens say about their parents driving habits
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Ford safety survey
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May 6, 2011 - PRLog -- DEARBORN, Mich., April 26, 2011 – U.S. teens and tweens say their parents are riskier drivers than they claim, according to a new national survey commissioned by Ford Motor Company.  While nearly all parents say they are safe drivers and good models for their kids, 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.

• Nearly all (95 percent) parents believe they’re safe drivers yet 82 percent of teens report
seeing their parents be careless when driving

• More than three quarters of tweens say they will rely heavily on their parents’ advice
when they start to drive.  Nationally renowned family psychologist says parents can have
a positive impact by serving as role models and discussing safe-driving practices with
their children

• 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

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. “There seems to be a gap between parents saying they drive safely and what their kids observe,” said Sue Cischke, Ford group vice president, Sustainability, Environment and Safety Engineering. “Eating, reading and handheld texting are bad habits that teens and tweens pick up. Ford continues to be part of the solution by expanding our teen safe driving education program and in-vehicle technologies that help improve safe driving behavior.”

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. 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.”            

Reducing distractions

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.  

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 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

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. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company.

For more information regarding Ford’s products, please visit

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. Innovation in education is encouraged through national programs that enhance high school learning and provide college scholarships and university grants. Through the Ford Volunteer Corps, more
than 20,000 Ford employees and retirees each year work on projects that better their communities in dozens of countries. For more information, visit


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