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Control Your Teen's Driving... What Parents Can Do?

Among the strategies parents can use to improve their children’s chances of staying safe on the road this summer are these:

Sign a summer contract with their young driver.
Parents must make it clear that driving is a privilege, not a right. Experts urge parents to clearly define the expectations and requirements associated with being allowed to drive, and the consequences for violating them. Require young drivers to sign a contract accepting the conditions, and stick to them. Click here for more information on driving contracts.

Make time to supervise driving practice.
Driving is a learned skill acquired with much practice. Teen drivers significantly reduce their risk of crashing if they have logged in at least 50 hours of supervised driving before driving alone. A similar amount of supervised practice is needed before driving alone at night.

Introduce the driving privilege gradually.
Allow independent driving only after much practice and for limited amounts of time and in low-traffic situations on familiar roads. Grant other privileges, such as driving for longer periods, on busier roads, at night, in inclement weather, or with passengers later and gradually, as the driver acquires more experience.

Limit your child from riding with inexperienced drivers.
Your child may be in equal or greater danger as a passenger riding with an inexperienced driver. Many teenagers die as passengers in motor vehicles. Fifty-nine percent of teenage passenger deaths occurred in vehicles driven by another teenager. Know who is driving your child, what his driving record and experience are, and how his driving privilege is regulated by his parents. Teach your child to be a good passenger, avoiding driver distraction and insisting on safe driving practices.

Reduce distractions, including limiting passengers.
Cell phones, radios, CD players, mp3 players, and passengers all can be deadly distractions. Express your expectation that your child not use a cell phone while driving and regulate the use of music players, restricting music entirely for the first six months of independent driving. Research confirms that the already increased crash risk for teen drivers rises with each additional passenger. According to a Johns Hopkins University study, the crash rate is four times higher when there are three or more passengers than when the teen is driving alone. Teens should be permitted to drive passengers (other than a supervising adult) only after much experience and practice. Set ground rules and discuss them with likely passengers.


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