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Teen Driving

A long awaited spring has arrived.  It is the time of year when many high school students drive around with their windows down, while loudly playing their favorite CDs.  This is a great time of year for most people.  But for others it is the time of year when you get the morning paper and the first article reads, “Local Teen Dies, Others Injured in Car Wreck”.  You as a parent of a teenager just close your eyes and shake you head while looking at the picture taken of what once was a car and now appears to be crushed metal and broken glass.  You say to yourself, “these kids were too young to die.”

            “A drivers license is one of the biggest status symbols among high school students.  Getting a drivers license is not only a social asset but it makes the adolescent feel more independent than ever before (Helping your Teen Become a Safe Driver, 2004).” According to the American Automobile Association, traffic crashes are the #1 cause of death and injury for people ages 15-19.  In 1998, it was reported that more than 6,300 teens dies in motor vehicle collisions (Helping your Teen Become a Safe Driver, 2004). 

Problems that contribute to the high crash rate of young drivers include: 

  • Driving inexperience
  • Lack of adequate driving skills
  • Risk taking
  • Poor driving judgment and decision making
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Excessive driving during high-risk hours (11pm-5am).

Here are a few suggested rules from, The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, for parents to consider when their teens begin driving independently: 

  • Parents should not allow young drivers unrestricted driving privileges until they have gained sufficient experience.
  • Parents should limit their teen’s driving alone in adverse weather conditions (rain, snow, ice, fog, etc.) and at night until the teen has sufficient skills and experience.
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal and dangerous and should be strictly prohibited.
  • Parents should decide when and where the teen is allowed to drive the car (e.g. to and from part-time job, etc.).
  • Everyone in the car must wear seatbelts at all times.
  • Parents should determine whether and when their teen can drive passengers. 
  • Parents should determine what behavior or circumstances would result in loss of the teen’s driving privileges.
  • Teens should not drive when fatigued or tired.
  • Headphones should never be worn when driving.
  • Teens should be encouraged to take an annual defensive driving course after obtaining their license.

“SUPERVISED BEHIND-THE-WHEEL DRIVING EXPEREINCE IS THE KEY TO DEVELOPING NECESSARY HABITS AND SKILLS FOR SAFE DRIVING. PARENTS NEED TO WORK WITH THEIR TEENS TO HELP THEM GAIN THE NEEDED EXPEREINCE AND JUDGEMENT (Helping your Teen Become a Safe Driver, 2004).”

 

For further information about teen driving and parent/teen driving contracts: 

Beraradi, Phil. Safe Young Drivers: A Guide for Parents and Teens

Drive Home Safe. Available: [Online] www.drivehomesafe.com

Students Against Destructive Decisions. Available: [Online] www.saddonline.com/

References: 

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (2004). Helping your Teen

Become a Safe Driver. Available: [Online] www.aacap.prg/publications/facts/fam/76.htm

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