Teen Driving Safety

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To teens, a newly acquired driver’s license signifies a new freedom, new power, and new status. For parents, a newly acquired driver’s license for their teen ushers in a whole new set of worries.

FACTS TO KNOW

  • Traffic accidents are the number one cause of death among
    children and young adults.
  • More than 3,800 young drivers age 15-20 are killed each year in traffic accidents. More than 326,000 young drivers are injured.
  • Young drivers are involved in fatal traffic accidents at over twice the rate as the rest of the population.
  • A study co-sponsored by aaa and seventeen magazine, asked more than 1,000 sixteen and seventeen year olds in April, 2007, and found that 46% said they text message while driving and 51% admitted to talking on their cell phone while driving; this is the number one cause of accidents among teenage drivers.

BEFORE YOU GIVE YOUR TEEN THE KEYS

  • Set limits on the number of passengers you will allow in the car when your teen is driving or other teen is driving.
  • Require your teen to tell you where they plan to go and what route they are going to take.
  • Start your young driver with short trips accompanied by an adult.
  • Let your teen practice by driving part of the way on a long family
    trip or vacation under adult supervision.
  • Evaluate your teen’s responsibility in other areas; punctuality, attitude, effects of peer pressure.
  • Be sure your teen understands the driving laws, proper
    signaling, general traffic safety, and defensive driving skills.
  • Require your teen to use seat belts.

HOW PARENTS PLAY A ROLE IN TEEN DRIVING SAFETY

The cause of many teen accidents is not an issue of insufficient
skills or knowledge. It is often an issue of attitude and maturity. Parents have great influence and can help shape a responsible attitude about driving.

REMEMBER YOU ARE YOUR TEENS ROLE MODEL: New drivers learn a lot by example. Teens with driving records often reflect the behavior of parent’s poor driving records. That a teen’s parents need to obey speed limits and demonstrate safe driving habits.

SUPERVISE AS MUCH PRACTICE DRIVING AS POSSIBLE: Take an active role in your teen’s driving practice. Make a firm schedule to supervise your teen and stick to it. Let your teen drive in a variety of driving conditions to build up experience and confidence. Give your teen the chance to experience a variety of weather, heavy traffic, urban and rural situations and night driving.

BE FIRM ABOUT SAFETY BELT USE: If you wear your safety belt every time you drive, your teen can adopt this behavior more easily. Require that your teen where his/her safety belt at all times with no exceptions.

DISCUSS REALISTIC CONSEQUENCES OF DRUG AND/OR ALCOHOL USE: Teens realize that driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs is clearly dangerous, but a face-to-face discussion with their parents is a strong reinforcement. Let them know that alcohol, marijuana, or other drug use is not acceptable.

RESTRICT PASSENGERS: Teens often transport their friends. This
practice needs to be limited and supervised carefully. Having more passengers in a car increases the chance of greater risk taking, mainly because of peer pressure. It can also lead to more distractions. Some states have passenger restriction laws for teens.

LIMIT NIGHT TIME DRIVING: Many teen car accidents happen between 9p.m. and 12 midnight. New teen drivers should be restricted to driving during the day initially and gradually introduced to night driving as they gain experience.

KEEP IT SLOW AND SAFE: Remember new teen drivers need to stay away from fast-moving, high volumes of traffic until they feel comfortable in such situations and/or until parents feel they have had adequate experience. Gradually introduce more difficult driving situations; highway driving, merge ramps, and major urban areas.

TRAIN FOR POOR WEATHER CONDITIONS: Do not expect your teen to be comfortable driving alone in poor weather conditions. They will feel more comfortable if you have been on the road with them coaching them through rainstorms, snow, wind, sleet and ice. Limit your teen’s driving during periods of bad weather until your teen demonstrates a high level of competence and confidence.

RESTRICT CELL PHONES: Do not let bad habits begin. Tell your teen they are not permitted to talk or text on their cell phone while they drive. Research has indicated that teens might be picking up the dangerous behaviors of cell phone use while driving from their parents. Parents need to set standards for cell phone use by being a good example. Parents should not use their cell phone while driving.

GENERAL TIPS FOR DRIVING SAFELY WITH CELL PHONES

  • Abstain from talking on a cell phone while you’re driving.
  • If you need to answer a call or make a call, pull off the road
    into a safe parking area.
  • Do not look for your phone while you are driving.
  • Postpone conversations that are either emotional or complex.
  • Do not send a text message, IM or try to read incoming
    messages while driving.
  • Choose a safe vehicle for your teen: proper attention to the
    car your teen drives is as important as your teens driving. Look for cars with a high safety rating. Look for federal statistics and consumer reports to help evaluate the safety of a vehicle.