Teen Driving Safety

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Thoughts for the Week on Teen Driving Safety by Dee Jepsen, OSU Extension State Safety Leader

Each day, there are more than 15 crashes involving drivers between the ages of 15 to 20. You do not need to have a teen driver in your home to be affected. In fact, 2 out of 3 people killed in crashes involving teen drivers are people other than the teen driver - including passengers of teen drivers, occupants in other vehicles, motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Here is the scary truth:
Motor vehicle crashes are the No. 1 cause of death for teens (1).
Drivers aged 16 and 17 have the highest crash rates than any other age group (2).
In 2009, young drivers were involved in more than 5,600 fatal crashes (3).

1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2009.
2 Journal of Safety Research, 2003.
3 Injury Facts, 2011.

TIPS FOR PARENTS
The National Safety Council urges parents to familiarize themselves with the risks that young, inexperienced drivers face. Parents should not rely solely on driver education to provide teens the significant knowledge and experience that they need to become safe drivers. Completing driver education should be viewed as the beginning of the learning process, not the end. More important to safe driving, research shows, is the opportunity to improve driving skills through gradual exposure to increasingly-challenging driving tasks.
Experience, Experience, Experience: While supervising a new teen driver, parents should give teens plenty of experience behind the wheel in a variety of situations, including night driving and different weather conditions. If you want to spend time with your kids, spend it in the car.
Eliminate the distractions: Ban any cell phone use in your teen's car and prohibit your teen from taking other teen passengers along for the ride. Your state law may differ, but these are the safest steps to prevent crashes.
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 should work with teens in an open dialogue. Try using a written parent/teen agreement which allows clear communication between parents and new teen drivers. Research shows that one problem is, parents and teens hear and believe different things when discussing driving limits, penalties and expectations. Creating a written agreement together helps avoid this. Enforce the agreement consistently.
General advice: Your teen could also a passenger of another new teen driver, a risky situation for both. Know whether your teen's friends are following the state law on nighttime driving limits and passenger limits. If your teen is driving alone, you should drive with them in advance. Make sure he or she has traveled the road before in the same conditions.

RESOURCES FOR PARENTS
National Safety Council offers an innovative, two-hour online course to get parents more involved in their teen's learning to drive process. The Defensive Driving Course "ALive @ 25 Parent Program" online helps parents reinforce their teen's basic driving skills and good decision-making to help them become safe, responsible, and defensive drivers.

Teaching Your Teen to Drive- This document was published by the Ohio Department of Public Safety providing parents of teens who are beginning to drive. This document provides parents some guidelines and areas to practice with their teen.
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