Almost the same number of parents and teens are taking risks behind the wheel, according to a study by Liberty Mutual Insurance.

While 38 percent of teens say they use apps while driving, just one percent less (37 percent) of parents admit to doing the same. In addition, 46 percent of teens and 41 percent of parents who use their phones while driving consider red lights and stop signs to be socially acceptable places to use their phone, with 37 percent of teens and 34 percent of parents considering it safe.

And, despite asking their teens not to text and drive, the study found that parents are still texting them and expecting a response. Teens say the primary reasons they are using their phones while driving or when they are stopped at red lights are to respond to (47 percent) or contact their parents (44 percent).

“Whether it’s multi-tasking or texting, a seemingly ‘quick’ glance away from the road – even when at a stop – can result in a dangerous situation,” said Mike Sample, MS, CSP, Lead Driving Safety Expert and Technical Consultant at Liberty Mutual. “It doesn’t matter if you’re an experienced parent driver or a new teen driver, you should always pull over and put your car in park before using your phone to avoid putting yourself and others at a greater risk of an accident or near miss.”

The study also asked parents and teens about rules and punishments. More than a third (37 percent) of parents admit to not enforcing punishments when their teen breaks a rule – or even the law. Thirty-eight percent of parents say the reason for not enforcing the rules is that it’s “an inconvenience”.

“Rule setting is an important part of helping your teen gain independence, make good decisions and stay safe,” said Dr. Gene Beresin, Liberty Mutual Consultant and Executive Director of The Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds at Massachusetts General Hospital. “Testing boundaries is normal teenage behavior, but if a rule is broken, it’s imperative for parents to follow through and enforce the consequence so the teen will change their behavior in the future and in turn help keep themselves and others safe on the road.”

The study also found that parents might not always be honest about reporting their own bad behaviors. While 20 percent of parents in the study admit to texting and driving, 30 percent of teens say their parents text and drive.

“Parents are role models for their teen drivers and when the parent is the ‘rule breaker’ they are setting a bad example,” added Beresin. “I encourage parents and teens to set and agree upon boundaries together to help keep everyone safe on the road.”

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