Parents Play Crucial Role in Teen Driver Education, Safety
Next week, from October 17th through the 24th is National Teen Driver Safety Week, an initiative developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to raise awareness and seek solutions to end unnecessary accidents and injuries on the road. As part of the awareness education program, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has released a study about the importance of parent involvement in increasing their teen’s safe driving skills.
Parents Are Unsure About Teen Driving in Unfamiliar Situations
Research for the study was conducted by the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center. An analysis of the driving patterns of 50 families in NC was conducted using cameras installed in their vehicles for a period of four months shortly after their teenager obtained his or her learning permit. Parents were also interviewed 10 times during the year-long study.
The average amount of weekly driving varied among the families, ranging from just twenty minutes to almost five hours (median was an hour and a half of driving per week). Sixty-eight percent of parents cited time and schedule constraints for not having more opportunities to ride with their driving teens.
Nearly half of the parents in the study report that even after one year of driver’s education, there was at least one road condition which they were uncomfortable sending their children out to drive on their own, such as bad weather, heavy traffic, or nighttime driving. Only one in four parents accompanied their children when driving during one of these conditions in order to gain more experience.
Yet, when the time came to obtain driver’s licenses, more than one-third of parents allowed eligible teens to apply.
According to the AAA, teens have the highest crash rate of any group in the United States and motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for young drivers between the ages of 15 and 18. “The goal is to get people to realize how serious a situation it is,” said Peter Kissinger, president and chief executive of the AAA Foundation, a nonprofit research and educational organization.
“One of the best things parents can do to reduce the risk is to spend as much time as possible with their children to provide guidance driving in a variety of situations so they can gain experience and competence,” he continued. “If they do, it will have a significant impact on the teenager’s later driving experience.”
The focus of this year’s National Teen Driver Safety Week is “Keep your hands on the wheel, your eyes on the road, and your thumbs off your phone’s key pad”. Out of 3,750 teen deaths from automobile crashes in 2008, about 18% involved distracted driving.