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.

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