10 Things Parents Need to Know About Teen Driving


Motor vehicle crashes continue to be the leading cause of death for teens 15 to 19 years old in Texas. And it is not just the teen drivers at risk, it is also their passengers who are at risk, too.

Driver inexperience is one of the main reasons that teens are more likely to be in a crash. Parents have more influence over their teens than they may think. First, parents should be familiar with the Graduated Driver License Law (GDL) that protects teen drivers in the beginning stages of their driving. Parents should get involved with their teens and stay involved through their teen driving years to make sure they follow good driving habits and to set good examples with their own driving behavior.

Here is a list from the National Safety Council on the top 10 things that parents may not know:

  1. Car crashes are the number one killer of teens in the U.S.
  2. The most dangerous year of a teen's life is the year he or she receives a driver’s license
  3. Half of all teens will be involved in a car crash before graduating from high school
  4. A teen's crash risk is three times that of more experienced drivers
  5. After years of declines, teen driving crashes and fatalities are on the rise
  6. Just one teen passenger can increase a teen driver's crash risk by 44 percent
  7. 75 percent of teen driver crashes occur because the teen made a critical error due to inexperience, such as driving too fast for conditions, not scanning for hazards, or being distracted
  8. 52 percent of teens who are killed in a car crash are unbelted
  9. Cell phones are a huge influence of distraction for already inexperienced teen drivers, yet 12 states still allow some form of cell phone use for novice drivers
  10. About 20 percent of teen car crashes involve an underage drinking driver

The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Agent Melisa Rhodes reminds parents to talk to their teens about staying safe on the road.

A study published under the National Institutes of Health showed that teens with parents who set rules, monitor their driving, and are supportive, are half as likely to crash, and twice as likely to use seat belts, as teens with less involved parents. Parents can help by talking with their teens about safe driving practices.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reminds parents to:

  • Learn about the GDL law and be familiar with the restrictions placed on your teen's license
  • Require seat belt use always
  • Talk to your teen about the dangers of drug and alcohol use
  • Be a good role model. Remember that your child looks to you as a driver, so practice safe driving yourself. Set aside time to take your teen on practice driving sessions.
  • Don't rely solely on a driver's education class to teach your teen to drive. Remember that driver's education should be used as just part of a GDL system.

For more information about teen driver safety, visit the National Safety Council’s DriveitHome, a website designed by and for parents of newly licensed teen drivers, at driveithome.org.

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