A new study by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI), sponsored by Toyota’s Collaborative Safety Research Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan shows that teen drivers do a lot more texting behind the wheel than their parents think they do.

The study found that 26 percent of teen drivers surveyed said they read or sent a text message from a smartphone at least one time every time they drive. But only one percent of the parents polled believed their teen engages in this risky driving behavior.

The bad news gets even worse with respect to texting and driving. Twenty percent, or one in five teens, admitted to multi-message text conversations while behind the wheel.

Other survey findings

Drive like you want your teen to drive

That’s the bad news. The good news is that the survey of more than 2,600 newly-licensed drivers age 16 to 18 and nearly 3,000 parents of drives in this group found that parents have a significant influence in how their teens drive.

Specifically, parents are urged to teach model positive driving behavior – almost from the time the child seat is turned from rear-facing to forward-facing. As Tina Sayer, CSRC principal engineer and teen driving safety expert said in a release, “Seat belts and good defensive driving skills are critical.”

Her one piece of advice to parents of newly-licensed drivers to help them remain safe on the road: “Be the driver you want your teen to be.”

For more information on the study, follow this link.

Want to help your teen stop texting and driving? Check out our 10 tips.

(c) 2012, High Gear Media.