Speeding is actually a larger cause of fatalities among teen drivers than distracted driving, according to a new survey by AAA. Speeding is one of the three main mistakes teens make while learning to drive, along with distracted driving, and poor visual scanning. Drivers with poor visual scanning drive with tunnel vision and fail to scan the road properly for hazards.
According to the AAA, parents can play a large role in encouraging their teens to drive safely. Jennifer Ryan, director of State Relations for AAA, said:
Parents need to understand the common mistakes teens are making and take the time to help their teens learn how to stay safer on the road when they are learning to drive.
Setting a Bad Example
Driving instructors have reported that all too often parents set a poor example. A recent AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety survey found that drivers ages 33 to 55 typically admit to engaging in dangerous behavior while driving.
For example, 77 percent of them say they talk on a cell phone while driving (compared to 68 percent of teen drivers). And 45 percent of adults in the 35-55 age group say they have driven 15 mph over the speed limit on a highway (compared to 46 percent of teen drivers).
Being a Good Driving Role Model
Because parents have so much influence over their teens, they play a major role in road safety overall. Most teens learn about driving behavior from their parents. Parents who model good driving habits may end up saving their children’s lives.
Previous research demonstrates that teens whose parents are stricter with driving rules have fewer car accidents and traffic violations. AAA urges parents to remain actively involved as their teens learn to drive. Some of the ways parents can help their teens develop good driving habits include:
- Discussing the dangers of speeding and distraction
- Finding time to practice driving with their teens in many conditions and situations
- Creating and enforcing a parent-teen driving agreement that lists family road rules
- Being a good example by avoiding distractions while driving, and by not speeding
Graduated Driver Licensing
AAA also suggests that teens enroll in driver education programs that focus on avoiding distracted driving behavior and other safe-driving skills. In Colorado, the association recommends signing up for AAA’s online StreetSmart program and enforcing Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) rules at home.
According to AAA’s Colorado page, GDL is a multi-stage licensing program. It divides the process into three sections: instruction permits, minor driver’s license, and full licensure.
- Teens between ages 15 and 17 can get several types of Instruction Permits by presenting a certified birth certificate or other type of acceptable identification, passing a written exam and a vision screening test, and taking driving courses. In addition, the teen and his or her parent or guardian must fill out an Affidavit of Liability and Guardianship.
- Teens 16 and older are eligible for a Minor Driver’s License after holding an instruction permit for 12 months and passing a test, among other requirements.
- When a teen reaches the age of 18, the minor driver’s license’s night driving and passenger restriction expire. Full Licensure is available once the driver turns 21.
As with all drivers, using defensive driving skills is critical in avoiding auto accidents. Learn what skills you should be teaching your teen in our guide to defensive driving.