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American Teens Receive a “D” or “F” grade for Teen Driving Safety

Arlington, VA – Teen drivers may think they know everything but they still have a lot to learn about how to drive safely according to information released by the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility ( at the start of National Teen Driver Safety Week. A majority of teens, 78 percent, report anticipating that the actions of other drivers will always be the hardest aspect of driving and 65 percent of teen drivers said they sometimes or every time find themselves in situations behind the wheel that they are not prepared for. This survey was conducted at IKnowEverything Challenge events and tested teen driving safety knowledge among more than 2,000 high school students across the nation.

“More than half of the students we surveyed did not receive a passing grade on our I Know Everything Teen Driving Safety Challenge,” said Ralph Blackman, president and CEO of the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility. “Teen driver safety is much more than simply knowing the rules of the road. It takes a lot of parental instruction and hours of driving experience before a novice teen driver is fully prepared to drive.”

Teens scored highly on using seat belts and identifying unsafe driving practices:

  • 91 percent know to keep their seat belt fastened and tell others to buckle up
  • Almost 90 percent can correctly identify distracted driving behaviors
  • 86 percent know how to drive safely when using a GPS

Teens had trouble with the following common driving scenarios:

  • 67 percent did not understand how to safely navigate a complicated driving situation
  • 60 percent did not know what to do when a speeding car approached them from behind
  • 35 percent did not know what to do when an emergency vehicle approached at a red light

“Driver inexperience combined with developing brains that are hard-wired for risk-taking in the teen years means that teen drivers are at high risk for crashes,” said Jonathan Adkins, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA). GHSA is the newest partner for the IKnowEverything program and will work to implement the program in various states over the next year, beginning with events in Tennessee and Kentucky this week.

“Teens learn a lot and know a lot about driving but it takes years of practice and teaching for them to know how to react in real-life driving scenarios and peer pressure situations,” said Sandy Spavone, executive director of The Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA). “There are important tips teens can follow as they learn to drive and FCCLA has made it a priority to improve teen driving safety laws in the states.”

“Our experience working with teens over the past 10 years supports the results of this study. Teens in general lack experience in key advanced driving skill areas such as vehicle handling, hazard recognition, and speed and space management. Furthermore, the issues of distracted and impaired driving are a real concern for teens and adults alike. Ford Driving Skills for Life addresses all these issues in both our free hands-on driving clinics as well as our web-based training”, said Jim Graham, manager, Ford Driving Skills for Life, Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services.

Some teens still need help dealing with peer pressure situations:

  • 25 percent do not know how to handle a passenger who is drinking in their car
  • 27 percent do not know how to safely get home when their driver has been drinking alcohol
  • 38 percent are not sure how to handle a friend distracting them while driving

The IKnowEverything program was developed by the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility and is being implemented with the FCCLA, GHSA, The International Association of Chiefs of Police Foundation, the National Sheriffs Association, and The National Organizations for Youth Safety in communities across the nation.

About the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility

Formerly known as The Century Council, the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility ( is a national not-for-profit that leads the fight to eliminate drunk driving and underage drinking and is funded by the following distillers: Bacardi U.S.A., Inc.; Beam Suntory; Brown-Forman; Constellation Brands, Inc.; DIAGEO; Hood River Distillers, Inc.; and Pernod Ricard USA. For more than 23 years, has transformed countless lives through programs that bring individuals, families and communities together to guide a lifetime of conversations around alcohol responsibility. To learn more, please visit us at