Teen drivers need guidancePublished 5:14pm Saturday, December 8, 2012
QUESTION: What kind of difference, really, does parent involvement make in teen driving safety?
ANSWER: Two recent studies reveal that teen crashes and risky driving behaviors are strongly linked with the way teens and parents communicate and approach rules about safety. According to studies conducted by the research department of the Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania, teens who said their parents set clear rules, paid attention to where their teens were going and whom they were with, and did so in a supportive way were: 1) half as likely to crash, 2) twice as likely to wear seat belts, 3) 71 percent less likely to drive while intoxicated, and 4) 30 percent less likely to use a cell phone while driving than teens who said their parents were less involved.
Here are some important parent statistics to ponder, especially if you are a parent or grandparent of a teen driver:
•59 percent of parents are aware that vehicle crashes are the number one killer of teens, yet only 27 percent talk to their children about the dangers of unsafe driving in early adolescence; in comparison, 70 percent talk to them about the dangers of smoking and drug use;
99 percent of parents believe demonstrating good driving behavior is helpful in teaching their teen safe driving, yet many parents admit to displaying bad driving behavior when their teens are in the car, including: 71 percent have talked on a cell phone, 62 percent have operated a radio, MPC player, game, or other device, 26 percent have broken one or more driving laws.
The common thinking is that thrill-seekers and risk-takers are the primary cause of crashes. It’s not true.
While risky behavior does increase the chances of a crash, inexperienced teen drivers who are not risk-takers and who are responsible, smart, “good” kids simply make errors in judgment while driving, which is why parent involvement is so important, especially in the first years of teen driving.
If you would like to talk about the challenges of raising children, call the toll-free Parent WarmLine at 1-888-584-2204/Línea de Apoyo at 877-434-0528. For free emergency child care call Crisis Nursery at 1-877-434-9599. Check out www.familiesandcommu nities.org