Michelin Partners with Governors Highway Safety Association to Provide Resources to Parents During National Teen Driver Safety Week
62% say their child has experienced a COVID-19 related disruption in driver education/licensing
9 in 10 parents are concerned about their teen engaging in unsafe driving behaviors
35% say they do not have a backup plan to replace lost learning
GREENVILLE, S.C., Oct. 19, 2020 — A newly released survey1 of parents of U.S. teens conducted by Michelin North America, Inc. and the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) reveals that 62% say their child has experienced a COVID-19 related disruption in driver education/licensing, but 35% don’t have a backup plan for replacing lost learning.
“Michelin is committed to helping parents and teens prepare for the road in the safest way possible,” said Joanie Martin, chief administrative officer for Michelin North America, Inc. “Teaching a teen to drive is a key experience for almost every parent, so when we learned parents were facing added pressure due to the pandemic, we took action to help them fill the gap.”
Motor vehicle crashes remain the No. 1 killer of teens in America2, and according to analysis by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration nearly 300,000 crashes involving young, inexperienced drivers are related to tire issues like worn treads and over- or under-inflation3.
The survey polled parents of 15- to 17-year-old drivers who have a driver’s license, learner’s permit and/or were learning how to drive. Additional data underscores the need to equip parents with the tools to help their teens during a time that formal driving programs may not be widely available due to the pandemic.
More than half of parents (61%) have become more concerned about their teen’s safe driving skills during the pandemic, and about 9 in 10 (88%) worry their teen may be engaging in unsafe driving behaviors.
Parents in urban areas are particularly anxious: 82% of urban parents say they’ve become more concerned about their teen’s safe driving skills since the pandemic began compared to 50% of suburban and rural parents.
Further, 65% of parents in urban areas say their teens have faced pandemic-related delays in driver education/licensing versus 54% of suburban parents and 42% of rural parents.
“Parents are their teens’ No. 1 driving teacher and coach, but they often don’t recognize this or seek additional support,” said Pam Shadel Fischer, teen driving safety expert with GHSA. “As a parent, it’s important to ensure your teen is driving a safe vehicle, that you are knowledgeable about your state’s teen licensing requirements and the rules of the road, and that you seek out resources to help you help your teen driver build skills. This is critical as technology, licensing and driving laws and best practices continue to evolve.”
Before beginning behind-the-wheel training, teens need to understand the basics of routine vehicle maintenance. With extra time at home the past several months, 63% of parents are taking advantage of this opportunity to teach their teens about car maintenance. However, they are missing one of the most crucial safety components of their vehicles—tires. More than half (52%) of parents have not taught their teen how to check tire tread depth, while 35% have not taught their teen how to check air pressure.
“Parents are inundated with new and changing responsibilities as a result of the pandemic. While many things are out of their control, these simple steps performed monthly can help keep their teens safe and that’s checking their tires’ air pressure and tread depth,” Martin said.
To help fill the gap in formal training created by the pandemic, Michelin and GHSA are providing a fresh look at the basics:
Hand placement guidance of 10 and 2 has been replaced with 9 and 3 (due to the airbag in the steering wheel). Some also subscribe to 8 and 4, as it’s a more comfortable position to maintain for a period of time. Consult your owner’s manual for the recommendation specific to your vehicle.
GDL is an acronym parent and teens should know. It stands for Graduated Driver Licensing. Teen licensing requirements have changed from permit to full licensure, after completing a minimum holding period and passing a behind-the-wheel test, to a multi-step process or GDL that includes fulfilling numerous requirements. Many parents likely completed the former and may not know about their state’s GDL requirements. Learn more on your state DMV website.
Many cars today have newer safety features. Airbags, height-adjustable seat belts, anti-lock brakes, electronic traction control, lane-keeping assist, automatic braking systems, backup cameras and more have made vehicles safer, but parents need to understand how these safety features work and ensure their teens do, too.
Distraction isn’t a new safety problem; it’s been around since the advent of automobiles. However, popular apps are enabling real-time sharing all day, requiring parents and teens to be extra diligent to remain focused on the road, and not screens.
This survey and resource guide are a part of Michelin’s larger safety initiative, Beyond the Driving Test, which was first introduced in 2014 in partnership with Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA). Through its corporate social responsibility program, Michelin offers life-saving tips to parents and teens and ensures each state provides consistent information about tire safety in new-driver training materials.
To learn about critical tire safety checks, visit www.BeyondtheDrivingTest.com.
1: Research conducted by KRC Research from August 25-31, 2020 via an online survey of n=1,002 parents of teens (ages 15-17) who have a driver’s license, learner’s permit, and/or are learning how to drive; living in the United States.