A recent study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety shows that most teen drivers are not exposed to enough driving experience prior to licensing. This puts unprepared, inexperienced motorists on the road and increases the risk of fatal car crashes. To keep new teen drivers and others safe on the road, AAA is raising awareness during National Teen Driver Safety Week, Oct. 16-22, and encouraging parents to be involved in their teens driving so their new driver gets the experience needed to be a safe driver.
“The first few years of unsupervised driving are the most dangerous which is why it is essential for parents to become involved in teaching their teen safe driving habits,” said Jim Hanni, executive vice president for public and government affairs at AAA. “Parents should consider creating rules for their new driver that go above and beyond state laws that ultimately help their teen become safer drivers.”
Below AAA recommends ways parents should stay involved to ensure teens develop safe habits that will protect them as new drivers:
1. Keep teens practicing longer. Kansas has a one year learner permit, giving teens experience in all kinds of road conditions and weather. Teens with driving permits should become familiar driving on local roads, the interstate, roads under construction and winding roads both during the day, at night and in dry, wet and slick conditions. It’s best for a new driver to gain experience in unfamiliar situations with their parents who can guide them through new conditions.
2. Limit driving hours. Research shows night driving is the most dangerous time of day for teen drivers. AAA supports Kansas’ new graduated driver licensing system which limits newly licensed teens from driving after 9 p.m.
3. Limit the number of passengers in vehicle. Studies have shown the more passengers a teen driver has in the car, the higher the crash risk. In Kansas, newly licensed teen drivers are limited to one passenger in a car at a time, except for siblings. However, parents should consider restricting the number of friends allowed in a car during the early years of driving. This minimizes distractions to the new driver until sufficient driving experience is acquired to handle multiple passengers.
4. Create a safe driving agreement. Establish safe driving expectations through in your family with a parent-teen driving agreement, which outlines when, with whom and how often a new driver can be on the road driving solo. This agreement can also set restrictions on cell phone use while driving such as no cell phone use whether or not it’s hands free unless in an emergency for the first year. Parents and teens can visit www.TeenDriving.AAA.com for sample parent-teen driving agreements.
5. Consider a safe driving program. There are programs available for teens that reinforce safe driving habits. These courses are shown to reduce the risk of crashes, keeping teens safer on the roads. Such programs include AAA’s Teen Smart Driving Program.
AAA provides travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services to 52 million members nationwide. Since its founding in 1902, AAA has been a leading advocate for motorists and consumers. For more information about AAA, members and non-members can visit AAA offices in Topeka, Wichita, Manhattan or Lawrence, go online to AAA.com or call 800-365-5222.