DETROIT -- Teen drivers admit that they're prone to text messaging, talking on cell phones and hauling their friends around in the car.
A joint survey conducted by AAA and Seventeen magazine of 1,000 teens in April showed young drivers engage in risky behavior behind the wheel, prompting safety advocates to call for parents to be more aware of what their kids are doing when they leave with the car keys.
On average, 10 teens die every day in vehicles driven by themselves or other teens. Fatal accidents for 16- and 17-year-old drivers jump 20 percent in July and August, making them the deadliest months for teen drivers.
"School is out, and teens aren't just driving from school to home to work," says Ann Shoket, editor of Seventeen. "There are road trips, parties, more social activities. Their parents might loosen up on where and when they can drive for the summer because they just want to get the teens out of their hair for some time."
The survey showed 61 percent of teens admitting to risky driving habits. Of that 61 percent:
· Nearly 50 percent said they text message while driving, and 51 percent talk on cell phones.
· 58 percent say they drive with their friends in the car even though having other teens in a car can dramatically increase the likelihood of an accident.
· 40 percent say they speed.
· 11 percent say they drink or use drugs before driving despite years of attempts to educate teens about the dangers of drinking or using drugs and driving.
Shoket isn't surprised so many teens think they can multitask while driving. Adults engage in the some of the same behaviors. But pairing teen driver inexperience with unnecessary distractions can be lethal.
Parents need to step in and enforce rules prohibiting texting, changing the radio station and driving with friends, Shoket says.
"We feel so capable at multitasking," she says. "But when it comes to driving, you can only be single-tasking."
The data don't surprise Barbara Harsha, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association, either.
A few weeks ago, the GHSA held a teen safe-driving camp with Ford Motor, and Harsha says she was shocked to hear of a teenage participant who took time out of her lesson to re-apply her blush -- while driving.
"Young kids just don't realize what's involved in driving and what the risks are if you don't concentrate," Harsha says. "The AAA survey shows just what risky behaviors young drivers are involved in, and the need for close parental supervision, especially in the first six months."