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Survey: Actually, Your Adult Kids Are Doing All Kinds of Dumb Stuff When They Drive Your Car

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Ford study young drivers in parents' cars

Ford—lover of all things polls, statistics, and studies—recently commissioned a survey of more than 5,000 drivers between the ages of 17 and 24 from France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom to determine how many engage in various risky behaviors when driving their parents’ vehicles. If your guess is “a lot of them,” then you get the prize, which is gratification.

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Of the 5,003 European youths surveyed, 82% drive a car that they share with family. Thirty-nine percent of all respondents admitted to breaking the speed limit in some form or fashion, 27% admitted to using their smartphone to do everything from send messages to take pictures of themselves while driving, and 6% admitted to driving while drunk.

Further, 35% said that they have on occasion taken their parents’ vehicles without first asking for permission. What is the deal with kids today?

Because there’s always an objective to this kind of thing, Ford is pointing to these results and statistics regarding students returning home after college and their likelihood of perishing in a car accident as a means to highlight the utility of dedicated driver training for younger people. Dedicated driver training like Ford Driving Skills for Life, a program to which Ford of Europe has committed €12 million since 2013, for example.

“Moving back home—or never moving out in the first place—can lead to friction between parents and young people who are no longer children,” said Jim Graham, manager, Ford Driving Skills for Life. “Young adults can see the family car as a gateway to freedom, a base for social activities. But for their safety, and that of other road users—especially if they are driving a more powerful car than they are used to— they need to ensure they drive responsibly.”

So, a PSA for parents with home-bound kids: make sure that you lock up your keys or get your kids to learn proper driving habits.

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