Distracted driving is a serious problem among teens.

The Colorado Department of Transportation has driver safety resources for teens and their parents.

Teen driving safety in Colorado.
Now that National Teen Driver Safety Week is here, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) is asking all parents to be involved in their teens’ driving. Parents and their teens can find valuable resources on the CDOT website.

Distracted Driving

According to AAA Colorado, research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety shows distraction is a serious problem for teens, even more than previously believed. Distraction from a cell phone is among the top two most common forms of distraction, right after peer pressure. The Foundation’s 2015 Traffic Safety Culture Index results show that teens recognize how dangerous it is to text or talk on a cell phone while driving, but do it anyway: 74 percent of drivers ages 16-18 say texting or emailing while driving is completely unacceptable, yet one in three (33 percent) report having done so in the last month.

Colorado law prohibits teen drivers under age 18 from talking or texting on a cell phone while driving; texting is banned for all Colorado drivers.

Safety Tips

Only 25% of parents have actually spoken with their teens about driving, writes Robert Spencer Knotts for The Humanity Project. Noting that National Teen Driver Safety Week runs through October 24, The Greeley Tribune shares the following five teen driving safety tips from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

  1. Don’t drink and drive. Parents need to set a good example for teen drivers by not drinking and driving. Parents, let your teen know that drinking under the age of 21 is illegal, and that it is never a good idea to drink and drive, whatever a person’s age.
  2. Buckle up. It is essential to wear a seat belt in a car, no matter how short or long the trip.
  3. Don’t text or use your cell phone while driving. The mobile phone should be off limits while driving.
  4. “Stop Speeding Before It Stops You.” It is important to tell teens that every time driving speed doubles, a car’s stopping distance QUADRUPLES.
  5. Don’t have more than one passenger at a time. A teen driver’s risk of being in a fatal crash increases with each passenger in the vehicle. In Colorado, the law says there should be no passengers under age 21 during the first six months of a young person’s driver’s license, according to Colorado Graduated Driver Licensing Laws. From six months to one year, and in his or her first years of having a driver’s license, a teen driver is permitted to have one passenger under age 21. “Immediate family/siblings are exempt; if parent is in the car or an adult age 21 or older with a valid driver’s license for at least one year.”

Colorado’s efforts have helped the teen road accident fatality rate in the state to drop by more than 50% in the last decade, CDOT writes. The department suggests that parents ask their teens drivers to sign a contract that provides clear driving rules and that has certain consequences if the teens do not follow those rules. You can download a sample contract here.

Adult Influences

In a related item, a new report from the Governor Highway Safety Association and Ford Driving Skills for Life says that in addition to parents, other adults who can influence and inspire teens to have safe driving habits include coaches, athletic directors, activity advisors, teachers, school administrators and counselors, religious leaders and educators, physicians, employers of teens, law enforcement personnel, club leaders, car dealerships, civic organizations, local businesses, entertainment venues serving teens, and media groups. Experts suggest that parents encourage their teens to speak with a trusted adult if and when they don’t feel like speaking with their parents, the report says.

Image by Elenathewise/123RF.

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