Borrowing Mum and Dad’s car – to speed, text and drink drive

March 24, 2017

Young drivers are taking risks behind the wheel of their parents’ cars – which many borrow without asking – including speeding, using mobile phones, and drink driving.

These are the findings of a new survey we commissioned to highlight the need for dedicated driver training in Europe, * where car crashes are the leading cause of death for young drivers, ** and where financial pressures mean young adults are living at home for longer.

An overwhelming 82 per cent of those surveyed drive the family car, 39 per cent have broken the speed limit, 35 per cent drive it without asking, and 27 per cent use smartphones to make calls, send messages, or take selfies. A further 8 per cent confess to sex behind the wheel, and 6 per cent drink drive.

“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.”

In Europe, around half of 18 to 29-year-olds live at home with mum and dad. High youth unemployment, soaring rents and difficulty getting on the property ladder all contribute. College students frequently return home after studies – the so-called “boomerang generation” phenomenon.

Of those polled, 74 per cent actually have their own car but still drive the family car, some to save money – or impress friends. For the parents, it can be a financial test. Research suggests keeping a young adult at home can cost nearly £3,750 per year – with car costs including additional insurance fees, fuel and repairs. *****

We have committed a total of €12 million in training through its Ford Driving Skills for Life programme since 2013. Free, hands-on classes cover hazard recognition, vehicle handling, and speed and space management. The programme also highlights the risks posed by social media distractions such as texting and taking selfies at the wheel, as well as the dangers of drinking and driving, or driving after taking drugs.

Our MyKey technology enables car owners to programme a key for other drivers to stop incoming phone calls; restrict top speed; and disable the audio system altogether if occupants are not using safety belts.

* Survey of 5,003 young drivers, aged 17-24, in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the U.K.