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Survey: Teens who drive dangerously learn from mom and dad

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(Credit: iStockphoto/Dennis Oblander)

(CNN) — Teens who engage in distracted and dangerous driving most likely learned their bad driving skills from their parents, according to a study released this week.

The majority of more than 1,700 teens surveyed admitted to making poor decisions while behind the wheel.

Nine out of 10 said they talked on their cell phone while driving and 94 percent admitted to speeding. A majority of teen respondents said their parents practiced ‘do as I say, not as I do’ rules when it came to driving.

“These findings highlight the need for parents to realize how their teens perceive their actions,” said Dave Melton, a driving safety expert.

Meanwhile, when kids notice their parents driving poorly, they seldom say anything. Only 21 percent of teens in the study said they would ask their parents to stop driving while under the influence of alcohol.

“Your kids are always observing the decisions you make behind the wheel, and in fact have likely been doing so since they were big enough to see over the dashboard,” Melton said in a summary of the survey. “You may think you only occasionally read a text at a stop light or take the odd thirty-second phone call, but kids are seeing that in a different way. Answering your phone once while driving, even if only for a few seconds, legitimizes the action for your children and they will, in turn, see that as acceptable behavior,”

Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens, and drivers ages 16-19 are four times more likely than older drivers to crash, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

The survey was commissioned by Liberty Mutual Insurance and Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD).

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