And now, as teens take to the road this summer, AAA recommends that parents model safe driving behaviors and help ensure their teens practice them too. With pandemic restrictions easing, it’s also a good time for parents to consider having their teens complete a comprehensive driver education course as well as focus on the dangers of three factors that commonly result in deadly crashes for teen drivers:
Distraction: Distraction plays a role in nearly six out of 10 teen crashes, four times as many as official estimates based on police reports. The top distractions for teens include talking to other passengers in the vehicle and interacting with a smartphone.
Not Buckling Up: In research published in 2015, 60 percent of teen drivers killed in a crash were not wearing a safety belt. Teens who buckle up significantly reduce their risk of dying or being seriously injured in a crash. And according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, of the 22,215 passenger vehicle occupants killed in 2019, 47% were not wearing seat belts.
Speeding: Speeding is a factor in nearly 30 percent of fatal crashes involving teen drivers. A previous AAA survey of driving instructors found that speeding is one of the top three mistakes teens make when learning to drive.
To support parents in conducting practice driving sessions, AAA provides a free four-page guide to help parents coach their teens on driving safely. The “Coaching Your New Driver – An In-Car Guide for Parents” offers behind-the-wheel lesson plans, including various “DOs and DON’Ts” to make the learning experience as helpful as possible. The guide can be beneficial for parents as they coach their teens on multiple routes, building on their formal behind-the-wheel training.
TeenDriving.AAA.com has a variety of tools to help prepare parents and teens for the dangerous summer driving season. The online AAA StartSmart Parent Session also offers excellent resources for parents on how to become effective in-car coaches, as well as advice on how to manage their teen’s overall driving privileges. Teens preparing for the responsibility of driving should enroll in a driver education program that teaches how to avoid driver distraction and other safety skills.