Tips for Parents

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What parents of teenagers can do:

When parents understand the risk factors involved in letting 16 year-olds get behind the wheel, they can act to improve the situation for their own children.

Restrict night driving:

Most nighttime fatal crashes among young drivers occur between 9 p.m. and midnight, so teenagers shouldn't be driving much later than 9 p.m. The problem isn't just that late-night driving requires more skill. Outings late at night tend to be recreational. In these circumstances, even teens who usually follow all the rules can be easily distracted or encouraged to take risks.

Restrict passengers:

Teen passengers in a vehicle can distract a beginning driver and/or lead to greater risk-taking. Because young drivers often transport their friends, there's a teen passenger problem as well as a teen driver problem. Almost two of every three teen passenger deaths (62 percent) occur in crashes with a teen driver. While night driving with passengers is particularly lethal, many fatal crashes with teen passengers occur during the day. The best policy is to restrict teen passengers, especially multiple teens, all the time.

Supervise practice driving:

Take an active role in helping your teenager learn how to drive. Plan a series of practice sessions in a wide variety of situations, including night driving. Give beginners time to work up to challenges like driving in heavy traffic or on the freeway. Supervised practice should be spread over at least six months and continue even after a teenager graduates from a learner's permit to a restricted or full license.

Remember you are a role model:

New drivers learn a lot by example, so practice safe driving. Teens with crashes and violations often have parents with poor driving records.

Require safety belt use:

Don't assume that belt use when you're in the car with your 16 year-old means belts will be used all the time, especially when your child is out with peers. Remember that belt use is lower among teenagers than older people. Insist on belts all the time.

Prohibit driving after drinking:

Make it clear that it's illegal and highly dangerous for a teenager to drive after drinking alcohol or using any other drug. While alcohol isn't a factor in most crashes of 16-year-old drivers, even small amounts of alcohol are impairing for teens.