SOURCE: AAA Texas

October 15, 2007 13:20 ET

AAA Texas Offers Ten Things Parents Can Do to Keep Their Teen Drivers Safe

National Teen Driver Safety Week Is October 15-20

IRVING, TX--(Marketwire - October 15, 2007) - Automobile crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the U.S. AAA Texas urges parents of teenage drivers and would-be drivers to improve their teens' safety by heeding tips from its new list of "Ten Things Parents Can Do To Keep Their Teen Driver Safe." AAA is publicizing the list as part of the first annual national Teen Driver Safety Week, which runs Oct. 15-20.

"Teens look to their parents for guidance and direction, especially when they are learning to drive for the first time," said AAA Texas spokesperson Paul Flaningan. "Teen Driver Safety Week provides an opportunity for parents to focus on teen driver safety and take practical steps that can reduce teen driver crashes."

Ten Things Parents Can Do To Keep Their Teen Driver Safe

1. Know and understand their teens - Not all teens are ready to drive at the same age. Teenagers mature, develop emotionally and become responsible at varying rates, which parents need to gauge as they determine when their teen is ready to drive.

2. Be a positive and responsible role model - Teenagers learn from their parents' behavior. Parents' actions behind the wheel influence the driving behavior of their teens. Research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that, when using the number of collisions and traffic tickets as criteria, the parents of teens involved in crashes were more likely to have poor driving records than the parents of collision-free teens.

3. Choose a quality driving school - Driving is a risky activity for teens and warrants professional instruction. Driving schools that feature cutting-edge curriculums, high degrees of interaction and professionally-trained instructors are suggested. Parents should select a quality driving school for their teens' driver training.

4. Practice might not make perfect, but it can make for better teen drivers - As an important supplement to formal driver education, supervised driving sessions with parents provide teens with opportunities to enhance learning, reinforce proper driving techniques and skills and receive constructive feedback from the people that care most about their safety and success. To assist parents in these efforts, AAA offers Teaching Your Teens To Drive, a parent coaching program containing everything a parent needs to conduct supervised driving and more. Learn more at www.aaa.com/publicaffairs.

5. Keep teen drivers free of teen passengers and off the road at night - Extensive research indicates that a teen driver's chances of crashing increase with each additional teen passenger. Parents need to make sure they know who is driving with their teen at all times. Research shows teen crash rates spike at night and that most nighttime crashes occur between 9 p.m. and midnight.

6. Encourage teens to get enough sleep - Teens need about nine hours of sleep every night, but many teens fall short due to the combination of early-morning school start times and homework, sports, after-school jobs and other activities. A lack of sleep can negatively affect vision, hand-eye coordination, reaction time and judgment.

7. Eliminate the distractions - Cell phones and text messaging can be hazardous distractions for teen drivers. With surveys reporting widespread use of distracting technology by teen drivers, more than one-third of states have recently banned cell phone use by new teen drivers. Parents should make it a strict rule in their households, too.

8. Create a parent-teen driving agreement - Having rules, conditions, restrictions and consequences of teens' driving written down in advance establishes driving as a privilege, and not something to be taken lightly or for granted. Texas' Graduated Driving License Law places certain restrictions on teen drivers during the first six months of a provisional license. It's important that parents understand the existing state laws and what they can do to ensure their teen is adequately prepared for the driving experience.

--  Passenger Restriction: The teen driver may not drive with more than
    one passenger under age 21 unless accompanied by a licensed driver age 21
    or older.  An exception exists for driving family members under age 21.
--  Late-Night Restriction: A teen may not drive between midnight and 5
    a.m. unless accompanied by a licensed driver age 21 or older.  Exceptions
    are permitted for employment, school-related activities and medical
    emergency.
--  Wireless device restriction: A teen may not use a wireless device
    (cell phone, text message) while driving.
    

9. Set a time each week for discussion and review - Parental involvement and communication is critical in the prevention of teen-related crashes, injuries and fatalities. Designate a time each week to address concerns (both parent and teen), review the teen's driving performance and chart the progression towards established goals and benchmarks.

10. Make smart vehicle choice decisions for teens - As the family member most likely to crash, a teen should drive the safest vehicle the family owns. Things to consider are vehicle type (sedans are generally safer than sports cars, SUVs and pickup trucks), size (larger vehicles fare better in crashes than smaller vehicles) and safety technology (front and side air bags, anti-lock brakes and stability control systems).

DriverZED, a DVD driving risk assessment program for teens is available at AAA Texas offices for $5 for members and $7 for non-members. The brochure called 'Teen Drivers: A Guide to Texas New Graduated Driver License' is available in AAA Texas district offices for free in both English and Spanish.

AAA Texas, a member of the American Automobile Association federation of motor clubs, has been serving Texans since 1902. Today, more than a million AAA Texas members benefit from the organization's roadside assistance service, travel agency, financial products, automotive pricing, buying and financing, trip planning services, and traffic safety programs. Information about these products and services is available on the AAA Texas web site at www.aaa.com.

Contact Information

  • Contacts:
    Paul Flaningan
    469.221.8217 (Dallas)
    Rose Rougeau
    713.284.6552 (Houston)