Teen Drinking, Sex, or Winter Driving: What Worries Parents More?

Snow, ice, thick fog and heavy rain – according to a new Life360 poll, parents worry more about teen driver safety when it comes to hazardous winter road conditions (86%), than they do about teens drinking alcohol (48%) or having unprotected sex (60%).

With AAA expecting the largest volume of Thanksgiving travelers since 2005 – and 48.5 million of them planning a road trip – congested highways mixed with approaching winter road conditions are making safety an even greater concern. And apparently, young drivers get that. According to the survey, nearly 70% of teens are comfortable using a location sharing app with their family, and the number jumps to 86% when the app is coupled with safety services such as the ones found in Life360’s Driver Protect plan. With many teens planning to drive this holiday season – especially those coming home from college or visiting new friends – location-sharing and driver protection apps are a good way for parents to keep them safe on the road and monitor their journey.

To help understand whether everyone’s in the same lane when it comes to driving during the winter and the busy holiday season, we surveyed teens, parents and guardians across the country. The survey uncovered some surprising holiday generational insights. Let’s dig deeper into what the survey found about where parents and teens meet on these topics:

Worry – It’s Born From Experience. For parents, worry is born from experience. 98% of them have driven in challenging conditions, from heavy rain (96%) or thick fog (88%) to heavy snow (78%) and black ice (76%). Just 30% of young drivers have personally experienced black ice, and only 42% heavy snow.

Although 91% of parents say they trust young drivers to drive safely, 82% also say they regularly worry about them behind the wheel. And parents’ comfort drops by close to 40 percentage points when thinking about their kids driving during winter, with just half (52%) expressing comfort. Meanwhile, 86% of young drivers say they are comfortable driving during the winter months and less than half (47%) believe their parents worry about them behind the wheel.

Fearful Road Conditions. Whether they’ve navigated treacherous black ice or not, it ranks as the top concern for parents (91%) and young drivers (88%) alike when they find themselves behind the wheel. Heavy snow is also a common concern (82% of parents and 84% of teens). There’s more of a generational divide about fog and rain, with far more parents (80%+) than young drivers (62%+) personally worried about the challenges they represent. The biggest difference of all? Night driving. Nearly two-thirds of parents (60%) worry about it, compared to just more than a third of teens (36%).

Gas? Check. Playlist? Check. Let’s Go. Before hitting the road, teens have slightly different priorities than their parents do. For parents, the top three most important things to do are: checking road conditions (80%), filling the tank (79%), and confirming directions (57%). Teens have a similar top three, but in a different order: filling the tank (71%), confirming directions (67%), and checking road conditions (53%). Experience on the road may cause parents to be more concerned about traffic, too: 41% check on it before leaving, compared to just 32% of teens. Meanwhile, nearly a third (31%) of young drivers say creating a playlist before leaving is a priority – something that is barely on the minds of parents (4%).

Over the River and Through The…Wait, What? Again? From cookie decorating to ice skating or picking out a holiday tree, nine-in-ten (86%) teens enjoy all of their family’s holiday traditions. But be careful not to push family time too far, 42% of teens find it annoying when there are too many family activities during the holidays. And while teens are more likely to carve out time with friends during the holidays (36% vs 26% of parents), they still choose to spend most (64%) of their holiday time with their families.

On average, the majority of parents nationwide are willing to drive up to 7 hours round trip for a holiday gathering with extended family and friends, which explains why people drive 50% farther than normal on Thanksgiving Day according to our own driving data. As the winter and holiday driving season gets under way, the Life360 App with Driver Protect can help provide peace of mind and safety for those long (or short!) drives. You can learn more about it here.

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