The Top Fears Parents Have About Teen Drivers

Seemingly since Henry Ford perfected the mass production of the automobile nearly 100 years ago, parents have dreaded the moment when their teenage children utter these five words: ‘Can I take the car?’ That question send chills up the spine of even the most supportive of parents. But why? Allstate asked more than 200 parents about their fears now that their teen driver passed the driving test.

Obviously, they worry for their child’s safety and the effects of peer pressure. But surprisingly, the respondents stress over how to help their teens stay on track. Parents, if you’re concerned about peer pressure or wonder how to talk with your teen driver about safety, you’re not alone. Allstate can help.

Nerves don’t go away

Every good parent worries about their children, and when it comes to putting them behind the wheel of a car, those worries can increase dramatically. Even when a teen passes the driving test and is “legal,” those worries don’t necessarily go away. As a result, many parents find themselves saying, “It’s my job to worry.”

While some kids think their parents can leap tall buildings in a single bound, the truth is, many of these superheroes want to cringe at the thought of their teen driving. Parents want to appear trusting and confident when handing their keys over, yet they’re a bundle of nerves the minute the keys leave their hands. Inevitably, parents lose sleep over how their teen will manage the car when out with friends.

Feeling your pain, we asked parents, “What is your biggest fear when your child is behind the wheel?” Here’s what keeps parents up at night when their teen driver has the car:

The numbers are in: parents’ fears are often realized as peer pressure can lead to distracted driving. “A car full of teens chatting, arguing over music choices or horsing around can be hazardous,” notes The Daily Herald, Chicago’s suburban newspaper.

Garnering 49 percent of the respondents’ votes was Distracted Driving, likely showing how parents are clearly concerned with the 21st century issue of texting while driving. In the past, one would’ve seen larger numbers in the areas of Speeding and Driving While Intoxicated, but it appears the ubiquitous education programs in those areas have had an effect, at least in the minds of parents.

Giving the “safety speech”

Once a teen driver has completed driving school, you know what’s coming: The eye rolls. The parade of ‘whatever’s or ‘okay’s. Teens will agree to just about anything to get the car. Parents know they have to give the safety talk because the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s statistics keep growing:

  • Vehicle crashes take the lives of about 11 adolescents daily
  • One-in five distracted-driving-linked deaths involves a cell phone
  • One text can have the impact of drinking four beers

As a result of stress-inducing stats like that, when we asked parents, “What’s most important when talking with your teen about the importance of safe driving practices?” they didn’t hold back:

It seems simple, but engaging and talking to your teen is one of your best options for helping them. Your child will know you take safety seriously and you’ll have peace of mind knowing your child understands the importance of specific safety precautions.

And it appears that many parents agree, as 46 percent of respondents list a Two-way Conversation as chief among their priorities for their own safety talks. Coming in second and third, respectively, were Facts from a Reputable Source with 25 percent and Reinforcing Consequences of Poor Decisions with 21 percent. Not surprisingly, both of those answers represent topics likely to be covered during a healthy two-way conversation, which indicates the value parents place on such a discussion – a great sign!

Remember, dialogue is key—lecturing is not nearly as effective as a conversation.

Safe driving resources for parents & teens

Not sure how to get the conversation started? Don’t worry, we have your back:

  • Allstate Foundation maps out talking and action points, as well as tips for remaining enthusiastic about a teen’s accomplishment. And when you draft a Parent/Teen Contract together, you’ll hold each other accountable for road safety.
  • Allstate’s Teen Driver creates a teen driving community for teens and parents:

Parents -You’ll learn how to talk with your teen and connect with other parents in the same boat

Teens – You’ll learn how to make your promise to drive safely (with the help of your parents)

Rewarding your teen driver

Parents: If you’ve hit a roadblock where rewarding your teenager is concerned, look no further. In addition to pledging life-long safety, once teens log on to, they can complete online safety courses and simulations every 90 days.

When a teen signs up and completes a course, they’re eligible for cool prizes, including:

  • Six song downloads
  • Retractable ear buds
  • Starbucks gift certificates, and more!
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