Survey: PA Teens & Parents Demonstrate Dangerous Unawareness of State's Strengthened Teen Safe Driving Laws
A new survey released by Allstate Insurance finds that many driving-age teenagers and parents of driving-age teens in Pennsylvania need a much stronger understanding of the state’s teen driving safety laws. The findings also indicate that parents play the biggest role in education and enforcement, but need to vastly improve in both efforts.
The survey, which was conducted by TRU, a leading youth research and insights firm, was launched to mark the one-year anniversary of Pennsylvania’s strengthened Graduated Driver Licensing laws. The revised components, which went into effect December 27, 2011, include:
- 65 hours of supervised driving hours before licensure (including 10 hours of night driving and five hours of inclement weather driving;
- Passenger limits for junior license holders with the exception of family members;
- A curfew for junior license holders between the hours of 11:00pm and 5:00am;
- And a mandatory six-month holding period following one’s 16th birthday before eligibility to apply for a driver’s license
Several responses among teens and parents alike support the need for both groups – but especially parents – to develop deeper knowledge of Pennsylvania’s GDL laws:
- 56 percent of teens claimed to be confident in their knowledge of Pennsylvania’s GDL laws; only 36 percent of parents reported the same confidence.
- The majority of teens and parents were aware of three out of the four the basic components of the law (supervised driving hours, passenger limits and nighttime restrictions), but only about half were aware of the mandatory holding period.
- When asked about the specifics of the four components, only 17% of parents and 10% of teens could identify the correct restrictions.
The majority of teen respondents indicated that they value parental influence in GDL education, but many are not confident about how well their parents know the laws:
- 54% of teens say they have had a conversation with their parents about GDL laws
- 73% of teens who had these conversations considered them to be effective
- Only 54% of teens say their parents have a strong understanding of Pennsylvania GDL laws
The survey also revealed that many teens are breaking GDL laws:
- Only 38% of parents and only 15% of teens say young teen drivers generally comply with GDL laws.
- Nearly half (46%) of all Pennsylvania teens say they’ve broken at least one GDL law… but only 19% of parents are aware of these infractions.
- The most common response teens gave for breaking GDL laws was “had an emergency” (39%)
Additionally, there are major contradictions between parents and teens surveyed when it comes to enforcement:
- 81% of parents say they enforce the GDL nighttime restrictions with their teen (40% of teens disagree)
- 77% of parents say they enforce the restrictions for passengers under age 18 in their teen’s vehicle. (50% of teens disagree)
- 76% of parents say they enforce the minimum number of supervised driving hours with their teen (51% of teens disagree)
- 70% of parents say they enforce the mandatory 6-month holding period before applying for a license (45% of teens disagree)
Encouragingly, most parents (87%) and teens (80%) surveyed understand that GDL laws save lives. More than three out of four teens (76%) also responded that the desire to feel safe while they are driving is a strong motivator to comply with their state’s GDL laws.
“We know that Pennsylvania parents and teens don’t want to put themselves, their passengers or other motorists at risk,” said Allstate Insurance spokesperson Chris Conner. “But we also know that teens are our youngest, most inexperienced drivers. We hope these survey results serve as a call to action to parents to learn and enforce the state’s GDL laws.”
To learn more about Pennsylvania’s GDL laws, please visit the Pennsylvania Teen Safe Driving Coalition homepage. For more general information on GDL and teen driving safety, please visit the Allstate Foundation Teen Driving homepage.
TRU conducted a total of 401 online interviews among teens ages 16-18 and parents of teens ages 16-18, yielding a margin of error of +4.9 percentage points. Interviews were conducted from October 13th through October 30th, 2012. Screening criteria was enforced to ensure that all teens/teens of parents surveyed intended to acquire their learner’s permit, junior driver’s license, or driver’s license prior to their 18th birthday.