Associations between parenting styles and teen driving, safety-related behaviors and attitudes

Pediatrics. 2009 Oct;124(4):1040-51. doi: 10.1542/peds.2008-3037.


Objective: The goal was to explore the association between parenting style and driving behaviors.

Methods: The 2006 National Young Driver Survey gathered data on driving safety behaviors from a nationally representative sample of 5665 ninth-, 10th-, and 11th-graders. A parenting style variable was based on adolescent reports and separated parents into 4 groups, (1) authoritative (high support and high rules/monitoring), (2) authoritarian (low support and high rules/monitoring), (3) permissive (high support and low rules/monitoring), and (4) uninvolved (low support and low rules/monitoring). Associations between parenting style and driving behaviors and attitudes were assessed.

Results: One half of parents were described as authoritative, 23% as permissive, 8% as authoritarian, and 19% as uninvolved. Compared with teens with uninvolved parents, those with authoritative parents reported one half the crash risk in the past year (odds ratio [OR]: 0.47 [95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.26-0.87]), were 71% less likely to drive when intoxicated (OR: 0.29 [95% CI: 0.19-0.44]), and were less likely to use a cellular telephone while driving (OR: 0.71 [95% CI: 0.50-0.99]). Teens with authoritative or authoritarian parents reported using seat belts nearly twice as often (authoritative: OR: 1.94 [95% CI: 1.49 -2.54]; authoritarian: OR: 1.85 [95% CI: 1.08 -3.18]) and speeding one half as often (authoritative: OR: 0.47 [95% CI: 0.36-0.61]; authoritarian: OR: 0.63 [95% CI: 0.40-0.99]) as teens with uninvolved parents. No significant differences in crash risk or seat belt use were found between permissive and uninvolved parents.

Conclusions: Clinicians should encourage parents to set rules and to monitor teens' driving behaviors, in a supportive context.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic / prevention & control*
  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Authoritarianism
  • Automobile Driving / psychology*
  • Automobile Driving / statistics & numerical data
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cohort Studies
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Odds Ratio
  • Parenting / psychology*
  • Permissiveness
  • Reference Values
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Safety
  • United States