In order to effectively teach new drivers about proper smartphone use while driving, we need to have a clear understanding about what the current cellphone usage is, how it is viewed, and what examples students are being shown. As part of Distracted Driving Awareness Month (April) we surveyed Fresh Green Light driver’s education graduates and their parents from over the past 8 years. In total, we surveyed 528 people: 310 were new drivers and 218 were parents. What we discovered was shocking.

Following our Distracted Driving class students sign our Commitment Wall to not use their phone while driving.

About Smartphone Use While Driving

We wanted to know how new drivers and their parents use their phones while they are driving. Where do they store them and why do they use them? Here’s what we found out.

  • An overwhelming 91% of new drivers and their parents keep their phone within reach while they are driving. Of these drivers, 87.5% keep the phone in their cupholder, but besides that, parents are more likely to store the phone on the passenger seat (11%) and teenagers are more likely to store it on their lap (6%).
  • When asked if they use their smartphone when driving alone, 34% of teenagers admitted that they do, and 41% of parents came clean. If a passenger is in the car, this percentage raises to 48% for teens and 61% for parents.
  • Of the teen drivers that use their phone while driving, the majority of them only do so at stoplights (55%). However, only 40% of parents wait for stoplights.
  • Only 12% of new drivers use their smartphone every time they drive, and 10% of parents do. The rest only use it occasionally.
  • For teenage drivers, reading/sending messages or emails is the most common reason to use a smartphone while driving, with 86% saying they have done this. Other alluring tasks that couldn’t wait include searching for music (84%) or holding the phone while taking a phone call (84%). Twenty-eight percent of teens even admitted to filming a video while driving.
  • For parents, talking on the phone via a Bluetooth is the most popular reason to use the phone, with 93% saying they have done this. Only 66% use the phone for texting or email, and only 2% have filmed a video.
  • An impressive 98% of new drivers would stop using a smartphone if their passengers asked them to, and 96% of parents would.

Smartphone Safety Knowledge

Next, we wanted to gather intel about how new drivers and their parents view cellphone usage while driving. Can it be done safely? Should you say something as the passenger? These are our findings:

  • A surprising 72% of recent Fresh Green Light driver’s education graduates feel like they can use their phone and still drive safely. For parents, this percentage dropped to 33%.
  • However, 94% of teenage respondents and 96% of parents do believe it is dangerous to use their phone while driving.
  • Of drivers that use their phone while driving, 31% of parents have been close to having an accident because of it, and 28% of new drivers have.
  • The majority of the new drivers surveyed believe that you can safely look at your phone for two seconds without harm (46%), while 73% of parents say it can only be for one second.
  • When riding as a passenger, 75% of teenagers and 73% of parents say their friend who was driving used a phone. Of these, 55% of teens and 67% of parents did ask their friend to stop. Once asked, about 70% of the drivers did put down the phone.
  • When riding with their parents, 70% of teenagers have seen their parent use a smartphone while driving. Sixty percent of these teens did ask their parents to stop, and 65% of the parents stopped.
  • Only 34% of both teens and parents feel like the current cell phone laws are effective.

As you can see, these figures are pretty astounding, and they are just the beginning of our results. We have pages of written answers from students and parents that delve deeper into these stats and give us some insight into the whys behind the answers. Stay tuned for more results and direct answers from our driver’s education graduates and their parents, and please contact us with any questions.

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