Five Things Your Teen Must Know Before Driving

Are You Worried Now That Your Teen Is Driving?  “Finally, a ‘New Driver’ car magnet my teenager is willing to accept….” CLICK HERE to see.

(NAPSI)-Although teens may learn the fundamentals of driving through a driver’s education class, it is up to parents to steer them toward safe, practical, real-world driving habits. That’s because a driving instructor may teach his/her students how to operate a car, but it is parents who really teach them how to drive. The reason is simple: Good drivers aren’t born, they’re made. They are shaped and molded by experience–and teens will get far more experience sitting beside their parents than they ever could during an after-school driver’s ed course where they share the vehicle with two or three other wanna-be drivers. Each year, an estimated 12,000 traffic accidents involve speeding. And according to a survey by Seventeen magazine and AAA, 40 percent of teens say they have exceeded the speed limit by 10 mph or more. So it’s important for parents to teach their teens that getting their license doesn’t mean they’re trying out for NASCAR. Here are some guidelines to help parents through those inevitable discussions about what new drivers can and cannot do: Why Can’t I Drive At 2 a.m.? When teens earn their license, parents have a great opportunity to start discussions around safe-driving skills. Teens need to understand curfews, location restrictions and speed limits. This means more than just setting rules; engage your teen in a dialogue about the importance of limitations. In addition, many companies offer safe-driving contracts to help parents keep teens accountable for their own actions. For example, Safeco Insurance recently launched Teensurance™, a program that uses technology to help families protect their teen drivers as they gain experience and build trust. It includes a set of online tools based on an onboard GPS and notification system, and provides real-world services to give parents peace of mind and help keep teens safe on the road. Parents can set speed, distance and curfew limitations, and the program affords them access to their teens’ vehicles with real-time notification so they will know if their teen drivers are in danger. But Mom, I Had A Designated Driver First of all, teens should not drink, nor should their teenage friends. Yet according to the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration, approximately 50 percent of teens have had at least one drink by age 15. To avoid the chance of your teen riding in a car with a friend who falsely claims to be sober, parents should communicate that it is acceptable for their phone to ring at 2 a.m. for a ride home. Losing sleep is better than losing a child. You Don’t Own The Road; You Do Own The Car Teens may learn defensive driving in classes, but the only way they will see this in action is to learn from parents. Set up an obstacle course in the driveway for your teen. If you don’t have a suitable driveway, find an empty parking lot. Don’t be afraid to tell stories of your previous accidents. Teens can learn how to avoid accidents from your experiences. Most importantly, children start watching parents’ driving habits long before they get their learner’s permits. Being a good driver is the best way to teach safe driving. I Have To Change My Oil? Being a good driver also means taking care of your vehicle–especially since no one else is going to do it. This doesn’t mean drivers also have to be mechanics; they do, however, need to know what maintenance needs to be done–oil changes, tire rotation, windshield fluid, clutch and brake maintenance, etc. It doesn’t matter who does the work, as long as it gets done. And if your teen is interested in learning how to do the mechanical stuff, all the better. Know The Laws States began enacting Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) laws in the 1990s to enforce safe-driving habits. The graduated license program is a three-stage license phase-in process that allows young drivers to gain experience before receiving a full-privilege license. Parents can use GDL programs to reinforce driving restrictions. For information on GDL programs in your state, visit More information on the Teensurance program can be found at Parents are the best driving instructors a teen can have.

National Safety Council’s Advice for Teens and Their Parents

Are You Worried Now That Your Teen Is Driving?  “Finally, a ‘New Driver’ car magnet my teenager is willing to accept….” CLICK HERE to see.

John Ulczycki, executive director of transportation safety at the National Safety Council, offered advice for teens and their parents.Vehicular crashes are the leading cause of death for teens, with nearly 4,000 accident-related fatalities per year in the United States, and summer is the deadliest such season. When teens are out of school, they log more miles behind they wheel and often have friends in the car, which increases their risk for a crash. In the summer, more young people are finishing drivers’ education classes and hitting the road on their own for the first time, often with little experience.

Ulczycki stressed that the two major factors in fatal teen crashes are inexperience and distraction. Alcohol is involved, he says, but to a lesser extent.

Parents frequently don’t spend enough time with teens in the car before allowing them to drive in certain situations. Before teens drive in various situations, whether it’s on rural roads, the highway, at night, in bad weather, etc., they should have had their parents with them in the car under those circumstances.

There are things that happen on the road that experienced drivers see every day: drivers being cut off, aggressive drivers, etc. Experienced drivers are used to that and know how to react. Most teens, however, overreact, and get into crashes because they simply don’t react appropriately.

The safety council finds that teens may have enough hours in the eyes of their state to get their licenses, but teens learn at different rates. Some states have 50 hours of practice requirements. Some teens might be ready at that point, others not. Parents need to recognize this and determine whether their child is confident because, once teens get their licenses, they can go wherever they want without supervision.

Distraction is another significant factor adding to the risk of teens on the road, Ulczycki says. Distractions come from cell phones and other teen passengers. Teens get into far more crashes when they have other teens in the car.

Adults, on the other hand, get in fewer crashes when other adults are in the car. Adults actually drive more safely with passengers. Teens show different types of risk behavior, perhaps because of peer pressure. It’s also been established that seat belt use is lower when more teens are in the car. When you put three or more teens in a car driven by a teen, odds of being in a crash are four times higher than if they were by themselves. That’s why a lot of states have passenger restrictions.

Again though: No state has a perfect set of laws regarding teen drivers, Ulczycki says. But parents can put a perfect set of laws in place in their home

As for drunk driving, for 16- and 17-year-olds, it’s a relatively minor factor, at less than half the rate it is for adults. Alcohol is involved in 40 percent of crashes among adults. For teens, it’s 20 percent. If you had to put it in terms of what’s causing teen crashes. Though, at ages 18, 19 and 20, alcohol use becomes a greater factor in teen collisions.

As for tips offered by Ulczycki:

Experience, Experience, Experience: Parents need to give their teens plenty of experience behind the wheel in all situations and circumstances, with them supervising. Ulczycki says, if you want to spend time with your kids, spend it in the car.

Eliminate the distractions: If your state doesn’t have laws banning cell phones, then ban them yourself in your teen’s car. And, regardless of state laws, prohibit your teen from taking other teen passengers along for the ride.

Require and set firm penalties for alcohol use and lack of seatbelt use: Teens get into more crashes than other people, yet they wear seat belts less frequently than other people. So, as a parent — set strong rules.

Communicate: Parents have to work with teens in an open dialogue. This is a lifelong learning process. Parents need to be engaged. Would you ask 16- or 17-year-old to do electrical work in your house? Just because they have the required number of hours driving doesn’t mean teens are experienced enough. Too many parents say it’s OK for them to drive freely once their state does. . Ulczycki suggests a parent/teen agreement: Know what they’re going to do and what parents are going to do. A big part of the problem is parents don’t make the commitment in terms of time and communication to make teens competent drivers.

General advice: Know who teens are riding with, and whether that teen is a competent driver, and whether they’re following the state law on curfews and passengers.

If your teen is driving alone, you should drive with your teen in advance. Make sure he or she has traveled the road before in the same conditions.

Source:  National Safety Council

TEENS: Rookie Drivers

Are You Worried Now That Your Teen Is Driving?  “Finally, a ‘New Driver’ car magnet my teenager is willing to accept….” CLICK HERE to see.

Car crashes are the number one cause of death for teens, columnist Tom McMahon writes in today’s “Kid Tips” column in the Times. Teens have a 3 in 10 chance of being in a serious car accident during their first year of driving, say National Highway Traffic Safety stats, and their accident rates are five times that of 18-year-olds, who have a couple years of driving experience under their belts. Those are horrifying numbers, but McMahon’s got some common sense tips on how to protect your teen. And we’re intrigued by these “Rookie Driver” car magnets. They’re designed by teens and based on the same premise as Safestway’s bright red driver training cars — it’s a “this driver is still learning” alert to other drivers to exercise a little extra care and not go honk-crazy over newbie mistakes.

We’re eager to hear parents and teens’ take. Perhaps those 50 hours of DMV-mandated drive-with-a-parent time would have been less parentally traumatic if we’d had a “Rookie Driver” alert for other cars on the road … though the sight of a white-knuckled, shrieking parent in the passenger seat seemed to do the trick too.

Jackie Burrell 

Setting some ground rules for New Drivers

Are You Worried Now That Your Teen Is Driving?  “Finally, a ‘New Driver’ car magnet my teenager is willing to accept….” CLICK HERE to see.

  1. Insist that your teen control speed. High speeds cut down on reaction time and increase the severity of crashes. A crash at 78 miles per hour is twice as violent as one at 55 mph.*
  2. Require your teen to observe curfews. This is going to be one of your biggest challenges. However, it may be a life saver – 53 percent of all teenage motor vehicle deaths occur on Friday, Saturday and Sunday; 43 percent of these accidents occur between 9 o’clock p.m. and 6 o’clock a.m.*
  3. Prohibit your teen from drinking and driving. Nearly 50 percent of traffic deaths are alcohol related. More than half of alcohol related deaths involve 16-to-20 year olds.# (24 percent of 16-to-20-year-olds killed in passenger vehicles deaths had blood alcohol contents greater than or equal to .10 percent*).
  4. Know your teenager’s friends and their driving habits. Discourage your teenager from loaning his or her vehicle to friends and from “joyriding.” Newly licensed drivers should not have other teenage passengers. (63 percent of teenage passenger deaths in 1996 occurred in crashes where another teenager was driving*). Traffic Injuries are the leading cause of all deaths for people ages 6 to 27.*
  5. Radio/cassette/disc players can be tremendous distractions. Request that your teen keep the volume low. Other distractions include eating while driving, combing their hair or applying make-up, etc. They must keep both eyes on the road and both hands on the wheel! Another tough one, but important!
  6. Teach your teen to use seat belts. They reduce the risk of death to front seat passengers by 45 percent and the risk of moderate to crucial injury by 50 percent. (If you’re buying a new car for yourself or your teen, insist on one equipped with air bags. They reduce injuries and fatalities even further!)


* Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
# National Safety Council