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Teen Driving: A Must-Read for Parents

McKenzie Pediatrics 2012

Almost nothing scares parents of teens more than the idea of their son or daughter soon driving. And rightly so: teen drivers have the highest rates of injury and death among all age groups.

Car crashes are the number one cause of death among 15- to 20-year-olds in this country. Although drivers in this age group account for only 6 percent of US drivers, they account for 14 percent of fatal crashes, and have a crash rate 4 times greater than drivers 30 to 69 years.

More than 5500 young people die every year in car crashes, and tens of thousands more are injured. There’s no glossing over these facts. Adolescents are fundamentally riskier drivers than those who are more experienced, and they generally have less awareness of the world around them, and their vehicle.

However, safety is found in knowledge and involvement; studies have confirmed that the more parents know about teen driving, and the more they are involved in monitoring teens’ driving behaviors, the lower the risks. Parents can play an important role in keeping their teens alive and safe.

The following are ways you can help keep teens safe on the road:

Once your teen has his or her license, your job has not ended. Parental monitoring has a significant influence not only over adolescent substance abuse, sexual initiation, delinquency, and aggression, but also over driving safety. Remember that BY FAR the highest risk of crashing is within the first 60 days of driving.

In particular, signing and periodically revisiting a formal, written, driving-related parent-teen agreement with clear parent expectations reduces risky driving among teens, likely by reducing discordance between parent and teen interpretations of expectations and limits.

To protect teens from crashes, parents should set rules and effectively monitor driving behaviors. Engaged parents who are authoritative while supportive, and who ask repeated questions and provide frequent reminders of expectations, have the safest teen drivers.

More Resources:

OR DMV: How To Get A Driver’s License:

OR DMV: How To Get An Instruction Permit:

The Oregon Parent Guide To Teen Driving:

Road To Getting Your License:

AAP Parent- Teen Driving Contract:

The “I Promise” Program: Safe Teen Driving Initiative:

Road Ready Teens Program:

National Safety Council:

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

AAA Foundation For Traffic Safety: