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Tag Archive | "Graduated Driver Licensing"

Parents play a big role in keeping teen drivers safe


(c) National Safety Council

(c) National Safety Council

(StatePoint) For teens, getting behind a wheel can seem like an exciting taste of freedom. But too much leeway too soon can have dangerous results. Car crashes are the number one killer of teens, and half of all teens will be involved in a car crash before graduating high school, reports the National Safety Council (NSC).

Luckily, states with a Teen Safe Driving Coalition are helping change the game. The Coalitions — comprised of state and local government, law enforcement, public health agencies, traffic safety and injury prevention organizations, academia, businesses, teens, parents and crash survivors — were established by NSC and The Allstate Foundation. They have worked at the grassroots level for the last four years to educate parents and teens about the risks of teen driving. Coalitions exist in California, Florida, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Texas to offer solutions for parents to help teens be safer.

The results have been effective. Crashes involving 15- to 17- year-old drivers in Coalition states have dropped nearly 34 percent since the Coalitions were established four years ago, whereas non-coalition states have experienced just a 19.5 percent drop, according to NSC analysis of federal fatality data.

The Coalitions’ success is in part because they promote a program that indisputably saves lives. Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL), a proven method of reducing teen drivers’ crash risk by 20 to 40 percent, works by maximizing experience while minimizing common driving risks teens face, such as nighttime driving and carrying teen passengers. This allows new drivers to gain experience with less exposure to high-risk scenarios. All 50 states and D.C. have implemented some form of GDL.

“Beyond legislation, parents have a role to play as well,” says Kathy Bernstein, senior manager of teen driving initiatives, NSC. “As the number one resource when it comes to teaching teens to drive, parents should stay involved well after teens get their licenses.”

With that in mind, Bernstein is offering some life-saving tips to families with new drivers:

  • Parents should drive with teens regularly even after they receive their license. A minimum of 30 minutes weekly can help ensure that safe driving skills are being employed.
  • Talk with teens about managing distractions, such as phones — both handheld and hands-free — the radio, other young passengers, and even beautiful roadside scenery. When teens are driving, they must stay focused on the task at hand.
  • Mile for mile, 16 and 17 year-old drivers are about three times as likely​ to be involved in a fatal car crash at night than during the day, according to “Injury Prevention,” a peer review journal. Parents should give teens opportunities to learn nighttime driving skills with an adult supervisor in the car.
  • One of the best ways for teens to learn to drive is by example. So practice safe habits always.
  • Visit the Drive it Home site at www.DriveitHome.org for resources, such as weekly driving lessons and the New Driver Deal, a contract which parents and teens can create together that outlines household driving rules and the consequences for breaking them.

“Remember, it’s not whether teens are ‘good kids’ or ‘responsible.’ New drivers share one thing in common — lack of experience,” says Bernstein. “The more practice driving teens get, the better.”

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New teen driving law takes effect

As of March 30, teenage drivers with a Level 2 license under the Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program will have to comply with new driving restrictions, including limits on the number of passengers in a vehicle and shorter nighttime driving hours.

To encourage awareness and compliance with these potentially life-saving restrictions, the Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP) is launching a public awareness campaign that will feature billboards, public service announcements, posters and brochures.  OHSP will use federal traffic safety funds for the campaign.

“Studies have shown for teen drivers the crash risk increases exponentially for each additional passenger, but parents seem unaware of the dangers associated with passengers and nighttime driving,” said Michael L. Prince, OHSP director.  “The new requirements and the awareness campaign will go a long way in improving teen driving safety.”

The campaign encourages parents and teens to remember First & 10: Don’t exceed your first passenger and don’t drive after 10 p.m.  The campaign includes the web site, www.firstn10.com, to more fully explain the restrictions.

The new requirements prohibit Level 2 license holders from having more than one, under 21-year-old passenger unless the individual is a member of the driver’s immediate family, or the driver is traveling to or from school or a school-sanctioned event.

In addition, Level 2 license holders may not drive between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. unless traveling to or from employment, or accompanied by a parent, legal guardian or licensed driver over 21 years old designated by a parent or legal guardian.

A Level 2 license holder must be at least 16 years old and have successfully completed Segment 1 and 2 of a driver’s education program approved by the Michigan Department of State, as well as passed a driving skills test and presented a skills test certificate.  A teen driver cannot have a crash or violation in the 90 days prior to applying for a Level 2 license.

The Michigan Legislature approved the changes to the GDL program on the final day of the 2010 legislative session.  The legislation was sponsored by Rep. Richard LeBlanc (D-Westland) and supported through the efforts of the GDL Coalition, a group of community organizations dedicated to teen driver safety.

In 2009 in Michigan, 154 people were killed and 1,485 were seriously injured in crashes involving drivers ages 16-20.  Of those fatalities, 80 were a 16-20 year old driver or passenger.

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