"Are Young Drivers Learning Their Lesson?" Nationwide survey reveals distracted driving behaviors becoming socially unacceptable among young drivers; scholarship contest continues to encourage responsible driving

NASHVILLE, Tenn., April 18, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The frequency of anti-texting campaigns over recent years has demonstrated the risks of distracted driving for young drivers, and according to a new nationwide survey commissioned by Bridgestone Americas, Inc., taking those risks behind the wheel is becoming increasingly unacceptable among that group. Yet, social pressures fail to keep young drivers from engaging in those behaviors, especially when driving alone.

The survey polled more than 2,000 young drivers ages 16-21, and 71 percent said that reading received texts and emails is unacceptable, yet 45 percent admitted to doing it themselves. Almost 80 percent believe sending texts and emails behind the wheel is unacceptable, but 37 percent admitted to engaging in the behavior.

The fact that new drivers admit to driving distracted less frequently when in the company of others suggests that these behaviors are becoming socially frowned upon.

  • A striking 95 percent of teens read texts and emails when on the road alone, while only 32 percent do so around friends and only seven percent when in the company of parents.
  • More than 90 percent of young drivers admitted to posting on social media sites when alone, but only 29 percent post when with friends in the car and only five percent driving with their parents.
  • Three-fourths of those surveyed admit to watching a video when alone in the car, 45 percent when with friends and seven percent when with their parents.
  • Overall, these results suggest that teens believe they may be viewed unfavorably by friends or parents if they engage in unsafe driving behaviors.

"The fact these actions are becoming socially unacceptable shows progress in the effort to raise awareness of the risks and consequences of distracted driving, but with this many teens admitting to engaging in the behavior privately, there is still much work to be done," said Angela Patterson, Manager, Teens Drive Smart Program, Bridgestone Americas. "We have to continue to reinforce that it's not okay to drive distracted alone or with others. It only takes one time to cause a crash that can injure yourself or someone else."

The survey also uncovered a sizable gap between what behaviors young drivers admit to doing behind the wheel, and what they believe their friends to be doing while driving. Sixty-two percent of responders believe their friends send texts and emails when driving, while only 37 percent of responders admitted to doing the same. Only nine percent admitted to browsing social media sites while driving, yet believe 29 percent of their friends do so. Overall, young drivers assume their friends are participating in digital distractions in significantly greater numbers than they admit doing themselves.  

"Over the last four years, we have worked hard at DOT to both raise awareness of distracted driving and encourage everyone to speak out about it.  Now, it's part of a national conversation on safety that's happening between teens and parents in communities across America," said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood.  "While we've made considerable progress in a short period of time, we still have work to do to help our youngest drivers get the message that cell phone use and driving never mix."

The Bridgestone survey also revealed several other beliefs/behaviors from young drivers:

  • More than 63 percent say they take extra precautions to make sure they don't get "too distracted."
  • When comparing the danger of driving distractions to the danger of texting while driving, teens viewed analog distractions, such as eating or driving while drowsy, less dangerous than texting behind the wheel.
  • Sixty-five percent of young drivers admit to driving while drowsy.
  • While 33 percent admitted to sending a text or email while driving on the highway, 80 percent admitted to reading at a stop sign; 78 percent confessed to doing so at a red light.

"With this many new drivers engaging in distracted driving behaviors, it's clear we have to continue to educate on the serious consequences that activity can have," said Patterson."The Bridgestone Teens Drive Smart Video Contest is the ideal outlet to make a positive impact on their habits."

The contest, which is part of Bridgestone's teen safety education initiatives, is accepting video entries until June 20. Students ages 16-21 create a short automotive safety-themed video that encourages their peers to make better decisions behind the wheel. The top 10 videos are posted online for the public to vote on, and the three videos that receive the most votes win college scholarships: first place receives $25,000; second place receives $15,000 and third place receives $10,000.

In addition to the scholarship, each Teens Drive Smart winner will also have the chance to have his or her video used as a public service announcement (PSA) on television stations across the United States.

2013 Contest Details:

  • Videos must be 25 or 55 seconds in length. 
  • Entrants can submit their videos now through June 20 at www.teensdrivesmart.com and click on Video Contest.
  • A panel of judges will select 10 finalists based on the following criteria: how well the video compels viewers to be more safety-conscious when using their vehicles and how well the video effectively and creatively communicates its message.
  • The 10 finalist videos will be posted on www.teensdrivesmart.com in addition to YouTube, Twitter and Facebook on July 14. The general public will then select the top three winners through online voting at www.teensdrivesmart.com.
  • Official rules with complete entry, eligibility and prize details are available at www.teensdrivesmart.com.

The Results:

Votes will be tallied and grand prize-winning videos will be announced on August 5 at www.teensdrivesmart.com. Please visit www.teensdrivesmart.com for survey highlights and more information.

About Bridgestone Americas, Inc.:

Nashville, Tenn.-based Bridgestone Americas, Inc. (BSAM) is the U.S. subsidiary of Bridgestone Corporation, the world's largest tire and rubber company. BSAM and its subsidiaries develop, manufacture and market a wide range of Bridgestone, Firestone and associate brand tires to address the needs of a broad range of customers, including consumers, automotive and commercial vehicle original equipment manufacturers, and those in the agricultural, forestry and mining industries. The companies are also engaged in retreading operations throughout the Western Hemisphere and produce air springs, roofing materials, and industrial fibers and textiles. The BSAM family of companies also operates the world's largest chain of automotive tire and service centers. Guided by its One Team, One Planet message, the company is dedicated to achieving a positive environmental impact in all of the communities it calls home.

SOURCE Bridgestone Americas, Inc.



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