Safety is Driving Force Behind American Parents' Support of GDL Laws

American parents trust their own kids, but not other teens

Sep 28, 2011, 05:00 ET from The Allstate Corporation

NORTHBROOK, Ill., Sept. 28, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Many would agree there is a long list of worries for parents of teen drivers. Yet, a new survey from Allstate reveals that these parents take some comfort when it comes to their teens hitting the road, in the form of strong graduated driver licensing (GDL) laws, professional driving instructors, and perhaps surprisingly, their own children.

Keeping mom and dad up at night

Parents of teen drivers are most worried about their teenager texting or being distracted by friends while driving (73 percent say this concerns them "a great deal"), being at risk from other drivers on the road (61 percent), their children's inexperience putting them at risk (59 percent), and the possibility of their children drinking and driving (50 percent).

  • Mothers are more worried about texting and distracted driving (75 percent worry a "great deal") than fathers (69 percent).
  • Moms are also more worried about their children being at risk from other drivers (65 percent) than dads (54 percent).
  • Conversely, fathers are more concerned about drinking and driving (55 percent) than mothers (48 percent).
  • Parents in the Northeast are considerably more concerned about distracted driving (88 percent) than those in other regions (66 percent Midwest, 69 percent South, 76 percent West).  

Trust in thy teen

Parents overwhelmingly agree they trust their own children to drive, but they are worried about other teenagers on the road (79 percent agree with this statement, while 17 percent disagree).

  • Parents are less worried about their children being mature enough to handle the responsibility of driving (36 percent worry a "great deal"), the various costs associated with teenagers driving (28 percent), and the threat of their children causing significant damage to the car (26 percent).

…and trust in their teacher

More than half of American parents (53 percent) say a professional driving instructor would do a better job teaching their children to drive than they would. This is a measurable difference from the actual experience of American parents, only 40 percent of whom were taught to drive by a professional instructor.

  • When asked why they prefer a professional instructor, parents cite instructors' superior command of the rules, and the beliefs that driving instructors would have more patience, and that their children would be more likely to listen to the instructor.
  • Parents who think they would do a better job themselves say they know their child best and they trust their own experience and driving skill.

The law is my friend

Eighty percent of parents support state laws that limit when and with whom teenagers can drive, with 54 percent saying they "strongly support" these laws.

  • Support is higher among mothers (58 percent strongly support) than fathers (48 percent). Support increases the closer a parent gets to having a licensed teenage driver, with 71 percent of parents of teenagers who currently hold a driver's license strongly supporting these laws, compared to just 60 percent of those with unlicensed teenagers in their home.

A wide majority of parents (81 percent) agree state laws that limit teenage drivers "make it easier for me as a parent to enforce driving rules for teenagers."

  • Parents in the Northeast are most likely to agree with this sentiment (92 percent agree, compared to 78 percent in the Midwest, 81 percent in the South, and 72 percent in the West).

Just over half of parents (51 percent) think an appropriate age for their children to receive a driver's license is at least 17 years old. Forty-six percent believe the appropriate age is 16.

  • Parents in the Northeast are much more likely to support driver licenses at age 17 or later. Seventy-four percent of these parents support licenses at 17+, compared to 39 percent in the Midwest, 53 percent in the West, and 41 percent in the South.

Laying down the law at home

Three in five parents (60 percent) say they had restrictions from their parents or guardians when first driving, including 45 percent who had an evening curfew, 31 percent who had restrictions on where they could drive, 26 percent who had restrictions on who could be in the car, and 25 percent who had restrictions on how often they could drive.

  • Parents who had restrictions on their own driving are just as likely to support restricted licenses for teenagers as those who had no such restrictions.

Sixty-one percent of American parents say compared to other parents they know, they are stricter when it comes to attitudes about their child driving. Thirty-one percent say their attitudes are about the same as other parents, and just 5 percent say they are more permissive.

  • Mothers are more likely to say they are stricter (68 percent) than fathers (50 percent).

About the Survey

The national survey of 600 American parents with children under age 18 was conducted September 6-8, 2011 via landline telephone, and has a margin of error of +/- 4.0 percent. The survey was conducted by FTI Consulting, Inc. (FTI) for Allstate.

About Allstate

The Allstate Corporation (NYSE: ALL) is the nation's largest publicly held personal lines insurer known for its "You're In Good Hands With Allstate®" slogan. Now celebrating its 80th anniversary as an insurer, Allstate is reinventing protection and retirement to help nearly 16 million households insure what they have today and better prepare for tomorrow. Consumers access Allstate insurance products (auto, home, life and retirement) and services through Allstate agencies, independent agencies, and Allstate exclusive financial representatives in the U.S. and Canada, as well as via and 1-800 Allstate®.

SOURCE The Allstate Corporation