NHTSA Offers Tips in Support of Teen Driver Safety Week

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All this week, the Department of Transportation is attempting to raise awareness about the importance of safe driving among younger demographics through the Congressionally sanctioned National Teen Driver Safety Week.  The event, which is set to run across the country until this coming Saturday, aims to cut down on the approximately 187,000 injuries and nearly 2,000 fatalities that took place among teens in 2010.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is thus providing tips to concerned parents on how to ensure their teenage motor vehicle operator gets to his or her destination safely.

One of the first things that a parent can do is take the time to research their state’s laws regarding licensing.  Some states have what are known as graduated licensing procedures, which impose restrictions upon teenagers until they hit a certain age or amount of time behind the wheel.  Typically, a young driver has to be accompanied by an adult until they hit a given benchmark.  A journal of the hours driven is often used to certify that driving took place.  Parents should check up on their state’s law and see what needs to be done.  Even in states without strict laws, a log might be a good idea.

Parents should also just talk to their teenagers about what’s expected behind the wheel.  Impose rules that must be followed, and if those rules are disobeyed, stipulate that the driving privilege can be immediately taken away.  To this end, you might even write up a contract that explains things in greater detail.

But contract or no, a couple of behaviors should absolutely not be tolerated behind the wheel.  The first is texting or cellphone usage of any type while driving.  The NHTSA figures that 13% of all teen traffic fatalities result from some type of distraction, so the importance of refraining from cellphone usage cannot be underestimated.  The other absolute no-no is alcohol usage.  Yes, even though teens are not supposed to be drinking anyway, parents need to know that their kids might still do it.  Parents should opt to talk to their teens about the dangers of drinking and driving.

Finally, a few other rules could help ensure safety further.  Seatbelt usage can drastically cut down on the chance that a wreck will turn fatal.  You might also consider letting your teen know that he or she is not to have a certain number of teenage passengers in the automobile, as peer pressure could lead to dangerous driving.  Night driving should also be approached carefully and limited as needed.