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Survey: Many parents set bad example for teen drivers

As The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported recently, Georgia’s new distracted driving law allows teenagers to use their phones while driving – if they’re using hands-free technology. It’s a change from the old law, which prohibited teens from using electronic devices at all while driving.

Safety advocates hope parents will set a good example for teen drivers. But a new study suggests some parents are having a tough time of it. 

The study by Liberty Mutual Insurance found 37 percent of parents use apps while driving, compared to 38 percent of teens. It also found 20 percent of parents admit to texting and driving, though 30 percent of teens say their parents text and drive. 

So it appears many parents are taking a “do as I say, not as I do” approach to educating their teens about the dangers of using their phones while driving. 

The survey also found 37 percent of parents admit to not enforcing punishments when their teens break a rule, or even the law. In announcing the survey results, the insurance company urged parents to set rules and enforce them. 

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Liberty Mutual commissioned the survey of 2,000 teens from across the country last spring. The survey also included 1,000 parents of licensed teenage drivers. You can read more about the survey here

Experts say cell phone use and other distractions are a major contributor to rising traffic fatalities. Georgia’s new law is designed to address that behavior by making it easier for police to enforce the law. Generally, if your hand is on your phone while driving, you’re breaking the law. 

You can learn more about what’s legal and what’s not under Georgia’s distracted driving law here.

About the Author

David Wickert writes about transportation issues for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He previously worked for newspapers in Washington state, Illinois, Virginia and Tennessee.

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