A good role model is one that “walks the walk” or on the eve of National Teen Driver Safety Week just drives the car. Parents are important role models, even for their own teen drivers, so it is important to remember our behavior will greatly affect our children’s behavior. According to a study of teen drivers and their parents, commissioned by The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, teens say “parents” should be the primary provider of information about driving safety.

Using cell phones, texting, iPods, and other handheld devices were identified in the study as the most distracting behaviors for new drivers by parents and teens. And while teens and parents can recall having conversations about driver safety and distracted driving, self-reported parental behavior is not consistent with the messages they are giving their sons and daughters before they drive – for instance a majority of parents (55%) have talked on their phone while driving compared to 32% of teens who report they have engaged in this behavior while driving. Only 4% of parents and 6% teens recall reminders about not eating while driving, yet 76% of parent and 54% of teens have eaten or drunk beverages while driving. These and many others are unsafe behaviors for both experienced and teen drivers.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers in America. Mile for mile, teenagers are involved in three times as many fatal crashes as all other drivers.

Teen drivers are young, inexperienced and impressionable so let’s all remember to do what we are telling our children to do and lead them by our good example – especially when we are behind the wheel of a car.