Driver Distraction Study from The University Of Michigan Transportation Research Institute and Toyota Shows Significant Correlation Between Parent and Teen Distractions

Teens Are 26 Times More Likely to Text While Driving than Their Parents Think 
Teens Regularly Drive with Multiple Teen Passengers and No Adult despite Significant Risks


TORRANCE, Calif., Nov. 27, 2012 – Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. (TMS), today announced preliminary findings from a major, national study of teen drivers (ages 16 to 18) and parents of teen drivers conducted jointly with the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI).  The Study shows a significant correlation between parent and teen behaviors behind the wheel, suggesting parents can play an influential role in modeling risky behavior on the road.  The UMTRI/Toyota Teen Driver Distraction Study, the largest scientific survey of its kind, also found that texting while driving remains commonplace among teens, despite ongoing, nationwide efforts to educate drivers on the significant risks associated with these behaviors.   
             
The UMTRI/Toyota Study is based on national telephone surveys of more than 5,500 young drivers and parents.  The survey includes interviews with 400 pairs of teens and parents from the same household (dyads).  This is a unique factor that allows researchers to analyze closely how driving behaviors among parents and teens within the same family unit relate to each other.  In addition to a national sample, the study includes local surveys in Chicago; Philadelphia, Pa.; Houston, Texas; Long Island, N.Y.; Los Angeles and Washington, DC.     

Commenting on the connection noted in the study between parent and teen driving behavior, Dr. Tina Sayer, CSRC Principal Engineer and teen safe driving expert, said:  “Driver education begins the day a child’s car seat is turned around to face front.  As the Study shows, the actions parents take and, by extension, the expectations they set for young drivers each day are powerful factors in encouraging safe behavior behind the wheel.  Seat belts and good defensive driving skills are critical.  However, the one piece of advice I would give to parents to help them keep newly licensed drivers safe on the road it is to always be the driver you want your teen to be.”

Nationally, motor vehicle crashes remain the leading cause of death for U.S. teens and, in 2010, seven teens between the ages 16 and 19 died every day on average from motor vehicle injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.[1] 

The Study, sponsored by Toyota’s Collaborative Safety Research Center (CSRC), was designed to shed new light on frequently discussed driving risks and to identify effective recommendations to help keep teens safe and help parents serve as more effective driving role models.  The Study also looked at a range of risk factors that receive less public attention but pose great risks on the road as well as the role parents and peers play in encouraging distracted driving behaviors.

Today’s announcement represents only a portion of the study’s preliminary findings.  UMTRI and Toyota’s CSRC continue to analyze, compare, and contrast the data and will publish additional findings incrementally over the next few months. 
 
Key Findings from the UMTRI/Toyota Teen Driver Distraction Study
The sample of teens and parents from the same households (the dyad sample) showed a strong correlation between driving behaviors and attitudes within families.  In general, parents who engage in distracting behaviors more frequently have teens who engage in distracting behaviors more frequently.  Other findings from the dyad sample include:
   
 
Key findings from the larger, national sample of more than 5,500 respondents include:
         
Driver Education Begins When the Car Seat Starts Facing Forward
“Children look to their parents for a model of what is acceptable.  Parents should know that every time they get behind the wheel with their child in the car they are providing a visible example that their child is likely to follow,” said Dr. Ray Bingham, Research Professor at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute and Head of the Young Driver Behavior and Injury Prevention Group.  “By examining the willingness of U.S. parents and teens to engage in high-risk driving behaviors, this study will inform programs that help reduce distracted driving and the non-fatal injuries and death that it causes.”

Toyota complements this research with extensive safety education programs for young drivers and their parents as well as direct outreach to consumers, including: Sitting down with teens to draft a Safe Driving Contract can help jumpstart this dialogue.  This contract is a mutual agreement that outlines a parent’s expectations for a teen’s driving behaviors and the consequences when those expectations are not met.  Parents can find a sample agreement at www.toyotateendriver.com.


[1] The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System, Sept 28, 2012
[2] AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, “Teen Driver Risk in Relation to Age and Number of Passengers”
May 2012
[3] Ibid.
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About the UMTRI/Toyota Teen Driver Distraction Study
American Directions conducted the national telephone survey of 2,610 newly licensed drivers between the ages of 16 and 18 and 2,934 parents of drivers in this age group from August through September, 2012.  The survey includes interviews with 400 pairs of teens and parents from the same household (dyads). 
 
About Toyota’s Collaborative Safety Research Center
The Collaborative Safety Research Center (CSRC) works with leading North American universities, hospitals, research institutions and agencies on projects aimed at developing and bringing to market new safety technologies to reduce traffic fatalities and injuries on North America’s roads. Based at the Toyota Technical Center (TTC) in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the CSRC follows an open research approach based on sharing Toyota talent, technology, and data with a broad range of institutions and regulators so that safety advances can benefit all of society. To learn more about Toyota’s Collaborative Safety Research Center, please visit the newly redesigned www.toyota.com/csrc.
 
About Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.
Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A., Inc. is the marketing, sales, distribution and customer service arm of Toyota, Lexus and Scion. Established in 1957, TMS markets products and services through a network of nearly 1,500 Toyota, Lexus and Scion dealers which sold more than 1.64 million vehicles in 2011. Toyota directly employs nearly 30,000 people in the U.S. and its investment here is currently valued at more than $18 billion. For more information about Toyota, visit www.toyota.com or www.toyotanewsroom.com.
 
About UMTRI
The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute is committed to advancing safe and sustainable transportation for a global society. Located in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the heart of the transportation industry, UMTRI partners with government and industry and draws on scholarly collaborations to deliver high-quality research and the deployment of solutions to critical transportation issues. For more information about UMTRI, its research facilities, faculty and staff, ongoing research and collaborative opportunities, please visit: www.umtri.umich.edu
Media Contacts:
Toyota Safety and Quality Communications
Brian R. Lyons (310) 468-2552
John Hanson (310) 468-4718
Katy Soto (310) 468-8068
Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. Media Line (310) 468-5297
 
University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute:
Francine Romine (734) 763-4668