Parents have always been concerned about their teenagers driving on the weekend, especially at night. However, a new AAA study of crash data reveals that after school hours can be as deadly for teenage drivers as weekend nights. The researchers advise parents that they need to be just as vigilant about monitoring their teens’ driving on weekday afternoons as they are on weekend nights.
The researchers studied the number of fatal crashes involving teenage drivers between 2002 and 2005. What they discovered is that almost as many 16 and 17-year-old drivers were involved in fatal crashes between 3 and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday as were on Friday and Saturday nights between 9 p.m. and 2 a.m. There were 1,100 weekday crashes and 1,237 weekend crashes.
To combat this growing problem, the AAA recommends that parents do the following:
· Establish specific driving rules with your teen. If they follow the rules, they will be permitted to increase their amount of driving time. Breaking the rules leads to fewer liberties. Parents can find a parent-teen driver agreement at http://www.aaa.com/publicaffairs.
· Don’t allow a new teen driver to carry passengers during the first three months of driving. Allow them to carry no more than one passenger for the rest of the first year of independent driving. Crash rates increase drastically for 16 and 17-year-old drivers as you add more teenage passengers to a car. Thirty-five states limit passengers for new teen drivers. Every parent should do the same, regardless of state law.
· Don’t permit your teen to ride with a new teen driver. Carpooling seems like a sensible way for teens to ride to school, home and activities, but it can promote risky passenger behavior. Research shows that it is more dangerous for several teens to ride in one car than for them to drive individually.
· Ban cell phone usage while driving. Teens have trouble managing distractions, especially while driving.
· Require your teen to wear a seat belt every time s/he rides in a car. Teens have the lowest belt usage rate of any age group, even though new teen drivers have the highest crash rates.
· Make your rules known to other adults in your teen’s life. A parent-to-parent agreement with your teen driver’s friends will standardize rules among a group of teenagers. Letting your neighbors know your teen’s driving rules can provide you extra sets of eyes when you’re not around. You can also find a parent-to-parent agreement at http://www.aaa.com/publicaffairs.