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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

AAA Calls on Parents and State Legislators to Address Tough Teen Driving Issues

Challenges Parents to "Keep the Keys" of Teen Drivers Pending a Parent-Teen Agreement

The AAA is asking parents to "keep the keys" from their teenage drivers until a Parent-Teen Agreement is signed by both parties. The AAA also challenged lawmakers across the U.S. to pass legislation that toughens existing graduated driver licensing (GDL) arrangements currently in place.

Funded by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, the "Nationwide Review of Graduated Driver Licensing," reveals that states that employ GDL systems with five out of seven components included in the study realized a 38-percent decrease in fatal crashes involving 16-year-old drivers. For crashes resulting in injury involving 16-year-old drivers, the decrease was 40 percent. According to the NHTSA, moving vehicle crashes are the number one cause of teen death in the United States, claiming the lives of over 4,800 teens in 2005.

"Through this study, we have seen that the enactment of laws is key to improving teen driver safety," AAA president and CEO Robert L. Darbelnet said at a news conference in Washington. "So, today I am challenging legislators throughout the country to strengthen the GDL systems in their states to include the components that this study shows make a substantial difference in saving teen lives and reducing injuries."

The seven components are:
  • A minimum age of no less than 16 years for obtaining a learner's permit.
  • A prerequisite to hold the learner's permit for at least 6 months before receiving a license that allows any unsupervised driving.
  • A prerequisite for certification of at least 30 hours of supervised driving practice during the learner stage.
  • A transitional stage of licensing with a minimum entry age of at least 16 years and 6 months.
  • A nighttime driving restriction for holders of a transitional license, beginning no later than 10 p.m.
  • A passenger restriction for transitional license holders, allowing no more than one passenger (family members excepted).
  • A minimum age of 17 years for a full, unrestricted license.
Although these items were selected because they were the most frequent components in GDL systems throughout the US, they should not be considered a comprehensive list of safety provisions for teenage drivers.

"This research shows we are definitely on the right track," Darbelnet said. "Easing teens into licensure by limiting their exposure to risky situations while they are gaining needed experience behind the wheel, saves lives."

Recognizing that parents play an important role in keeping teens safe on the road, Darbelnet challenged parents to have their teens sign a Parent-Teen Agreement that, in his words, "Spells out the rules for earning the privilege of driving, including components that this study shows work so effectively in GDL systems throughout the country."

"Regardless of what the law is in their state, parents should set clear driving rules that include limiting night driving, no other teens in the car, and no cell phone use while driving, just to name a few," Darbelnet said.

Darbelnet also urged parents to involve themselves in the legislative process in their states by working to make the licensing requirements better.

"Ask your legislators to institute a three-stage graduated driver licensing system, to place effective limits on nighttime driving, and to set real limits for teen passengers," Darbelnet said. "It may be inconvenient for a parent to be the chauffeur for a while longer, but when it can save many lives, it's worth it."

Driver education helps increase driving safety awareness and ensures the well being of American drivers. The National Safety Commission recommends The Driver Education Handbook for Parents as a valuable teaching tool for parents who are concerned with their teen's driving safety and understand the value of quality instruction.

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Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32004-3359

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