Teenage drivers perceive fewer limits than parents think

New York, Jan 20 (IANS) Parents may intend to set strong limits on their teenaged drivers but their kids may not always be getting the message, according to a new study.

In families where parents reported limitations on their teenaged drivers — such as restricting mobile phone use, number of teenaged passengers and driving times and locations — teenagers themselves said they did not have those limitations, found a poll conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan, a university statement said.

“We know teen drivers are vulnerable to distractions while driving, and that they are also at the highest risk for crashes,” said lead author Michelle L. Macy, an emergency medicine physician at the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.

“Parents play a key role in promoting the safety of their teens by setting expectations for driving. We found that the great majority of parents do have rules for their teen drivers. However, teens consistently perceive fewer limits on their driving than what their parents report. This signals an opportunity for parents and teens to have more conversations about safe driving habits,” Macy added.

Parents of 13-18 years old and teenagers themselves were asked about limits placed on driving circumstances that can increase a teen driver’s risk of a crash.

About nine in 10 parents reported they placed at least one limit on their teenaged drivers while eight out of 10 teenagers reported having at least one driving limit placed on them by their parents.

In families where parents reported limits on mobile phone use while driving, 13 percent of teenagers said they have no limits.

In families where parents reported limits on teenaged passengers or night-time or highway driving, 20 percent said they have no such limits.

The study also found that parents who judge their teenagers’ driving ability as “above average” (32 percent of all the parents) are less likely to place limits on passengers and driving times/locations.

A total of 67 percent of parents set limits on passengers for their “above-average” teenaged drivers, compared with 81 percent of parents who perceive their teenaged drivers as “below average”, the researchers found.

“It’s a good idea to have conversations about rules of the road long before your child is ever in the driver’s seat,” Macy said.

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