I have been on a campaign for years to educate parents on the dangers of teenage driving. The next National Teen Driver Safety Week (NTDSW) takes place on October 20-26, 2013. This year’s theme is: It Takes Two: Shared Expectations for Teens and Parents for Driving. Whether they are practicing driving or driving on their own, teens and a parent (or other trusted adult) should work together to help teens become safe, skilled drivers. Young people should expect and advocate for support in driving from a trusted adult. Here are some tips to get you started:
Advocate for 65+ hours of supervised driving practice. To make it easy, keep a driving log and follow a driving lesson timeline to ensure that a parent provides lots of varied practice while learning to drive and careful monitoring for the first year after licensure. To be successful, it’s crucial to create the right learning environment.
Know what you don’t know. A recent study found that 75 percent of serious teen crashes were due to a critical teen driver error, with three common errors accounting for nearly half of all serious crashes:
• driving too fast for road conditions
• being distracted
• failing to detect a hazard
Make sure parents teach critical driving skills. Teens should try to accept constructive criticism and ask a parent to teach the following skills to prevent the three common errors that lead to teen crashes:
• speed management – This includes always following the speed limit, as well as knowing when to adjust speed in congested zones and residential areas, during inclement weather, and on poorly lit roads.
• recognizing and avoiding distractions – This means limiting the number of peer passengers, having a no cell phone or electronic device rule, and lowering radio volume.
• scanning for hazards – This involves observing the surroundings far ahead of the vehicle and side-to-side so that you have sufficient warning to react and avoid a potential crash.