Canadian Underwriter

Insurer calls for ‘greater dialogue’ on teen driver safety in light of survey results

September 17, 2013   by Canadian Underwriter

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State Farm Mutual  released Monday survey results that the carrier says show “strong disconnections between Canadian parents and teens regarding graduated driver licensing (GDL) laws.”

Insurer calls for ‘greater dialogue’ on teen driver safety in light of survey results

In the survey, teenagers were asked: “How often do you follow or will follow the laws?”

The results were broken down by four different restrictions on new drivers subject to graduated licensing: The number of passengers, nighttime driving, texting and talking on a handheld phone.

Fewer than half (48%) of teenaged respondents said they “almost always” do or will follow the restriction on nighttime driving. However, when asked how often they believe their teen “follows or will follow the law,” 69% of parents said their teen “almost always” does or will follow the law on nighttime driving.

This discrepancies between parents’ and teens’ answers “highlight the need for greater dialogue about teen driver safety within families, communities and with public policy makers,” State Farm Canada stated in a press release.

There was also a difference between the percentage of teens (42%) who said they almost always obey the restriction on the number of passengers and the percentage of parents (64%) who said they believe their teens almost always obey the same restrictions.

The results are based on an online survey conducted June 10 to July 11 through the State Farm Centre For Consumer Feedback. The final survey used 482 responses from parents of 14 to 17-year-olds with learner’s permits or driver’s licences and 244 responses from teens aged 14 to 17. A total of 500 parents and 280 teens responded but the final sample numbers were lower after “data quality screening.”

Teen respondents were also asked to what extent their parents “monitor if” they follow the laws. Parents were asked to what extent they “monitor if” their teens follow the laws. While 58% of parents said they “almost always monitor if” their teens obey the restrictions on the number of passengers, only 22% of teens said their parents monitor if they follow those laws. Nearly two-thirds (63%) of parents said they “almost always monitor if” their teen obeys the nighttime driving restriction while only a third (33%) of teens said their parents “almost always monitor if” they follow that law.

“Critically, the findings suggest parents of teen drivers believe their teens are following GDL laws more methodically than teens report,” State Farm Canada stated. “They also suggest parents monitor their teens’ adherence to GDL laws more than teens report. Yet, there’s one thing that parents and teens are aligned on – the most likely reason that teens don’t follow GDL laws is peer pressure.”

Teen respondents were asked to list the “most likely reason” they do not or will not follow driving restrictions for newly licensed drivers. One third (33%) said it was peer pressure, while 24% said the police will not catch them, 14% said they think the laws are too strict, 7% were “not concerned with parents’ consequences” and 4% were “not concerned with punishment by law.”

When adult respondents with teen children were asked to state the “most likely reason” their teen does not or will not follow the restrictions, 34% said peer pressure, 20% said “police won’t catch,” 12% said the “parents won’t catch,” 11% said “think laws are too strict,” 4% said “not concerned with punishment by law” and 3% said “not concerned with parents’ consequences.”

At the same time it announced the survey results, State Farm also said it has partnered with Parachute, a Toronto-based charity, to formally recognized National Teen Driver Safety Week Oct. 20 through 26.

Parachute, which aims to prevent injuries, was formed last year by combining the former organizations of Safe Communities Canada, Safe Kids Canada, SMARTRISK and ThinkFirst Canada. It receives funding from several government departments — including the Ontario Ministry of Transportation — as well as corporations including State Farm.

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