Survey shows many teens text, but worry about crashing

(October 19, 2015) BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — In observance of National Teen Driver Safety Week, State Farm has released the results of a recent survey of young drivers ages 16-19. The focus of the survey was to learn more about their attitudes and behaviors when it comes to distracted driving. The survey revealed that nearly all teens, over 90 percent, say they understand texting while driving is distracting, yet 44 percent say they do it.

When asked to choose the top three things that would deter them from reading or responding to text messages, concern about crashing was the number one answer (51 percent), followed closely by getting caught by police (50 percent). Other common responses included:

    Arriving safely at my destination (33 percent)
    Knowing someone who has caused a crash while texting (23 percent)
    Stories about crashes caused by texting (17 percent)
    Getting caught by parents (13 percent)
    Friends encourage safe driving (10 percent )
    Parent/teen safe driving contracts (6 percent)

“As nearly all teenage drivers now own smartphones, we must continue our work to understand and address the wide array of distractions that young people face,” said Chris Mullen, director of Technology Research at State Farm.

“This survey shows us some of the perceptions that influence distracted driving behavior for teens, reinforcing the need for consideration of the best educational, technological, and legislative solutions, and continued parental support to help curb these types of behaviors among teens.”

The State Farm survey revealed that distracting behaviors become more common among older teens, with those ages 18-19 much more likely than those ages 16-17 to report participating in the activities listed in this study.

Driving situations can play an important role in teen drivers’ decisions to participate in cellphone-related distracted driving behaviors that involve looking at the cellphone and interacting with the screen and/or buttons.

    • Sixty-seven percent of teen drivers who use their cellphone while driving reported that being stopped at a red light makes them more likely to use their cellphone compared to when the vehicle is in motion.

    • Three-quarters of teens said they were less likely to use their cellphone when adult passengers were in their vehicle compared to 58 percent who were less likely to use their phone when other teens were present.

    • At least two-thirds of teen drivers reported being “a lot less likely” to use their cellphone when driving in poor weather conditions such as rain, fog, snow, or ice.

About the Survey

In August 2015, the State Farm Strategic Resources Department used an outside panel vendor to conduct an online survey of U.S. consumers ages 16-19. Survey responses were received from approximately 1,000 teens who identified themselves as having a valid driver’s license. Nearly all of the teens (96 percent) responding to this survey reported owning a cellphone, and almost all of those teens (94 percent) said they owned a smartphone and drove a median five hours per week.