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Keep Your Teen Safe While Driving

by Sue Hubbard, M.D.

Are you the parent of a teenage driver?  It can be a bit nerve wracking!  The best way to keep your nerves in check? Establish and enforce the rules of the road.

Studies have shown that parents who initially limit their teens driving privileges have fewer traffic tickets and accidents than teens whose parents do not apply restrictions.

As you know from previous posts, I am a huge advocate of graduated drivers licenses and driving contracts between parents and their new teen drivers.  Motor vehicle injuries continue to be the leading cause of death in teens with approximately 4,200 deaths per year. Teenage accidents and injuries also resulted in over 380,000 emergency room visits in 2007.

To reduce the risk of injury and death, studies have shown the importance of graduated drivers licenses (GDL), which are now in effect in 49 states and the District of Columbia. But in order for GDL to work parents must be aware of the laws in their states and then must enforce these laws with their teens.

I have seen too many parents of teens in my practice who are either not familiar with the concept of GDL or who do not feel that these rules need to be enforced. What are they thinking? Anything that may prevent teenage car accidents and injury is something we should all be aware of as there is really nothing more frightening to me than putting your child behind the wheel of a car!

To help increase awareness, the CDC developed a campaign targeting the parents of teen drivers. This program is called “Parents are the Key” and is being tested in several states. This campaign will help parents manage their teens driving behaviors while simultaneously educating teens about high-risk activities that may lead to car accidents. Things like drinking and driving, number of passengers in their car, banning cell phone use and texting while driving, and limiting driving after dark all help reduce accidents and death.

The CDC has information on their website that will help you and your teen stay safe and alert behind the wheel. Take advantage of this opportunity, especially if you have a teen that is begging to start driving! The responsibilities with obtaining a driver’s license need to involve both parent and teen.

That’s your daily dose, we’ll chat again tomorrow.

Send your question or comment to Dr. Sue!

More Information: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Parents Are the Key

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