NEW YORK — As summer heats up and Americans hit the roads for vacations and family time, parents may want to set some ground rules while driving – otherwise, their kids will likely grow up to be “backseat drivers.”
A poll of 2,000 parents with teenagers finds three in 10 respondents believe their teen is the family’s biggest backseat driver. Only 23 percent said the same of their spouse or partner.
‘You should’ve taken a left turn at Albuquerque’
The survey also analyzes the added stress that so-called backseat drivers can place on travel and the actual person behind the wheel, especially once parents become the passengers. Giving unsolicited advice on when you should turn (49%), complaining that you’re driving too slowly (37%), and white-knuckling the dashboard (36%) are the top signs a backseat driver is in your midst.
Seventy-three percent of American parents admit at least one member of their immediate household is a backseat driver. Researchers find two-thirds of parents surveyed have either taught their child how to drive or are currently teaching them the rules of the road. Among those parents, eight in 10 admit that they themselves become a backseat driver when their kids are behind the wheel.
Commissioned by Smith Micro Software and conducted by OnePoll, the survey also examined how parents feel about letting their teens roam the open roads for the first time without them in the car. Over six in 10 (62%) say they were uncomfortable when their teen began driving without an adult present. Most of this concern revolves around tech — with 70 percent of parents believing their child’s generation is more at risk of distracted driving accidents than any other generation due to smartphones.
“The results show half of the distracted driving behaviors parents are most worried about are phone-related,” says William W. Smith Jr., President and CEO of Smith Micro, in a statement. “It’s further proof that smartphone-related distracted driving – and the additional auto accidents caused as a byproduct – is a widespread safety problem in our mobile-first society.”
Driving while scrolling a potentially deadly problem
One in five parents (21%) say that using a smartphone is the most dangerous driving behavior. Another 16 percent voted for talking on the phone and 13 percent selected texting while driving. Another 13 percent of parents also cite driving with friends in the car as another dangerous distraction for their teen.
Nearly two in three respondents believe their children will drive or ride with friends more frequently this summer in comparison to 2020 due to the easing of COVID travel restrictions. Six in 10 parents (63%) also believe the more their teen drives or rides with their friends, the more likely they are to get in a car accident resulting from distracted driving.
“With school ending and the summer driving season about to begin, teen drivers will be spending a lot more time on the road with their friends and their smartphones,” Smith adds. “An all-encompassing digital lifestyle app that protects children from inappropriate digital content within the home while also monitoring the driving habits and whereabouts of young drivers can be a gamechanger for busy parents concerned about the wellbeing of their children.”
Over half the poll (57%) added they have or would consider using a mobile app to monitor, detect, and report on their teen’s dangerous driving behavior. Additionally, 69 percent of parents said that this type of app would be helpful in teaching their teen safer driving habits.