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Teen Drivers
Photo: Michael Illuchine
Our 16-year-old daughter now has her driver’s license. This is a new phase of life that has my husband and I both excited and yet a bit worried. And reading the following statistics doesn’t ease our minds any. According to an analysis conducted for AAA in 2006, drivers ages 15 to 17 were involved in approximately 974,000--crashes that injured 406,427 people and killed 2,541. Here are some additional sobering statistics:1
  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among U.S. teens, accounting for 36 percent of all deaths in this age group.
  • The risk of motor vehicle crashes is higher among 16 to 19-year-olds than among any other age group, per-miles-driven. They are four times more likely than older drivers to crash, says the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
  • Risk is highest at age 16, and the crash rate per miles driven is twice as high for 16 year olds as it is for 18 and 19-year-olds, according to the IIHS.
  • IIHS statistics show that 16 and 17-year-old driver death rates increase with each additional passenger.
  • According to teensafety.com, 1 in 3 teenage drivers has an accident in the first year after receiving a license, and a teenager is injured in a car crash every 55 seconds and killed every 6.5 minutes.
Driving Rules

Thankfully, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry has developed clear safety rules for parents to establish.2 We have adopted these rules for our teen driver:

1. Limit young drivers’ unrestricted driving privileges until they have gained sufficient experience. 

2. Limit your teen's driving alone in adverse weather conditions (rain, snow, ice, fog, etc.) and at night until he or she has sufficient skills and experience.

3. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal and dangerous and should be strictly prohibited.

4. Parents should determine when and where their teen is allowed to drive the car (school, work, a friend’s house, the store, etc.).

5. Everyone in the car must a wear seat belts at all times.

6. Parents should decide whether and when their teen can have passengers. (Some states have established laws concerning this.)

7. Parents should decide what behavior or circumstances will result in loss of their teen's driving privileges, and for how long.

8. Teens should not be allowed to drive when fatigued or tired.

9. Headphones should never be worn while driving. (We’ve included not adjusting the radio or CD player.)

10. Teens should be encouraged to take an annual defensive driving course after obtaining their license.

Some of these rules may not go over well with your teen, but don’t let that intimidate you. This is a time for you to stand firm as a parent—a parent who cares enough to make strict driving rules.

I’d much rather stand firm in our driving rules than to get that phone call which could forever change our lives….

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By Nancy Canwell. Copyright © 2010 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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