Could you be damaging your kids just by driving?

Parents could be having a negative influence on their children’s behaviour simply by being in the car with them, new research suggests.

An analysis by tyre maker Goodyear has shown that, while European parents consider themselves good role models, they could unwittingly be influencing their children’s driving habits for the worse.

Around 6,800 parents of learner drivers aged between 16 and 25 from a total of 19 countries were surveyed on their habits behind the wheel by the tyre manufacturer.

The survey and its findings were subsequently published in Goodyear’s new edition of its White Paper Driving Safety First: Improving Road Safety for Drivers.

Eszter Salamon, president of the European Parents Association, said: “It is clear the role of parents starts very early. They are role models for the children. Their behaviour on the road as drivers, cyclists or pedestrians has an influence.”

Goodyear’s survey found that 77 per cent of parents think that their children see them as good drivers, while 56 per cent think that they set a good example to others on the road.

However, despite this self-belief, reportedly only 54 per cent of parents would pass a driving test today, while over a quarter admit that they’ve picked up risky habits over the years.

A large number of parents have even admitted to having been penalised for speeding with children in their cars, while 14 per cent admit to often displaying signs of road rage.

Worryingly, the survey also suggested that a majority of parents appear aware of the strong influences they can have over their children’s attitudes to road safety while driving a car or van.

More than half said that their children pay attention to their parents’ behaviour behind the wheel, while it’s estimated that children start to pick up bad habits and attitude between the ages of 6 and 16.

Olivier Rousseau, Goodyear’s vice president for Europe, Middle East and Africa, said: “Parents appear to underestimate the negative impact that they can have.”

In November last year, a House of Commons debate was held on the importance of increasing child safety during rush hour on the way to school.

The speakers urged parents to be more considerate of their driving habits and to make an effort to cut out “sprinting” on the school run, putting others at risk just to get their children to school on time.

It was also recently revealed that as many as two in five young children have been either hit or nearly hit by careless drivers while walking or cycling to and from school.