TAMPA (CBSMiami) — School is nearly out in South Florida and that means teens are eager to begin their summer holiday. Not only will some be learning to drive for the first time, but with school out, others will have more time for joyriding. This brings with it an increased risk of motor vehicle crashes. In fact, Memorial Day marks the start for the 100 deadliest days on the road for teens. An average of 261 teens die during each of the summer months in traffic crashes, a 26-percent increase compared to the rest of the year.
“Parents are instrumental and play a significant role helping their teen be a safer driver,” said John Pecchio, traffic safety consultant, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “During the summer months, teens are more care-free and excited to have the freedom to drive around. So it’s imperative parents help keep safety top of mind.”
Studies have shown risky driving behavior, traffic violations and crashes to be lower among teens whose parents set limits on their initial driving privileges. AAA research reinforces the importance of parents setting and enforcing family rules. Listed below are a few tips for parents to help keep their teen drivers safe.
Teen Safe Summer Driving Tips for Parents:
- Restrict driving and eliminate trips without purpose. Teens have three times as many fatal crashes as all other drivers, based on amount of miles driven, and a teen’s crash risk is highest during the first year of solo driving. Parents should limit teens’ driving to essential trips and only with parental permission for at least the first year of driving.
- Become an effective driving coach. The best way for new teen drivers to gain experience is through parent-supervised practice driving where parents can share their wisdom accumulated over many years of driving. Even after a teen has a license that allows solo driving, parents and teens should continue to practice driving together to help the teen manage increasingly more complex and challenging driving conditions. AAA’s Teaching Your Teens to Drive coaching program is a great tool to help parents become effective driving coaches for their teens and is available at AAA.com.
- Limit the number of teen passengers and time as a passenger. Teen crash rates increase with each teen passenger in the vehicle. Fatal crash rates for 16 to 19-year-olds increase fivefold when two or more teen passengers are present versus when teens drive alone. Also, riding in a vehicle with a teen driver can be risky for teen passengers. Parents should set firm rules against driving with teen passengers and restrict their teens from riding as a passenger with a teen driver.
- Restrict night driving. A teen driver’s chances of being involved in a deadly crash doubles when driving at night. Many parents limit driving during the highest-risk late night hours, yet they should limit evening driving as well because more than half of nighttime crashes occur between 9 p.m. and midnight. AAA recommends that newly-licensed teens not drive after 9 p.m. unless accompanied by a responsible adult.
- Establish a parent-teen driving agreement. Many parents and teens find that written agreements help set and enforce clear rules about night driving, passengers, access to the car, and more. AAA offers a parent-teen driving agreement on its teen driver safety website, TeenDriving.AAA.com. The comprehensive website offers a variety of additional tools and resources for parents and teens as they progress through the learning-to-drive process including AAA StartSmart, a free online resource based on a research-tested program for families developed by the National Institutes of Health.