Parents who speed, text while behind the wheel and drive under the influence of alcohol produce teenage drivers who do adopt the same bad habits, a new study by Liberty Mutual Insurance found.
Almost half of the parents surveyed, 49 percent, admitted to talking on the phone while driving, while 37 percent said they exceed the speed limit by at least 10 mph, the insurer found in a report released Wednesday.
More worrying, 9 percent of the parents surveyed admitted to driving under the influence of marijuana, and 8 percent said they have driven while intoxicated. Eleven percent said they vape and drive.
That behavior might be rubbing off on their kids. Teens admitted to driving under the influence of alcohol and marijuana, as well as while vaping, at the same rates as the parents, Liberty Mutual found.
Unsafe behavior while driving can have fatal consequences, especially for new teen drivers: Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for American teens, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Liberty Mutual report suggests that teen drivers model the same unsafe driving habits as their parents.
Almost all of the parents surveyed agreed that their driving habits influenced their children's driving in some way.
Liberty Mutual also found that parents might be underplaying the extent of their rule breaking. While 20 percent of parents admitted to texting and driving, 30 percent of teens responded that their parents text and drive.
And parents don't appear to listen any better than their kids. When teenagers asked their parents to amend their lawless ways, only 56 percent listened. Someone, however, isn't telling the truth.
Most of the parents surveyed, 84 percent, said they did tighten up after being called out for bad behavior.
The study also found that more than a third, 37 percent, of parents don't punish their teens when they break a driving law, mainly because it's inconvenient, Liberty Mutual found. The most common consequence for teen drivers is losing driving privileges, leaving parents to pick up the slack, according to the report.
"Testing boundaries is normal teenage behavior but if a rule is broken, it's imperative for parents to follow through and enforce the consequences so the teen will change their behavior in the future and in turn help keep themselves and others safe on the road," Dr. Gene Beresin, executive director of The Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds at Massachusetts General Hospital who consults with Liberty Mutual, said in a press release.