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Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Teen Driver Safety 101
Becoming a safe driver takes time and experience. But there are things that parents can do to help the young driver in your family master the art of driving.
To start, phone your insurance company. Some insurance carriers will help you to install a camera in the car that your teenager drives, enabling you to see what driving mistakes he or she makes. According to public safety officials, there is often no cost to you for this service.
Now that summer is here, many police departments are launching their annual seat belt enforcement campaigns. Young drivers are regular violators of the seat belt law. But demanding that your young driver buckle up is just the start.
The top causes of driving accidents involving teens include distracted driving, fatigue, speeding, not checking when traffic when pulling out and driving with other teenage passengers.
"We suggest no more than one passenger for the first six months of driving. That passenger, especially if it is another teen, is distracting," said Katherine Burke Moore, who works in the Minneapolis Office of Traffic Safety. "CDs, radio, the cell phone— it is already against the law [in many states] for a teen to drive while using a cell phone or texting. So talk about that cell phone."
Burke Moore said that parents should give their kids as much practice times behind the wheel as they can.
"During that permit period, drive with them in every situation as much as you can," she said. "There's a few hours they tell you to have with your kid, but every chance you get, put them behind the wheel. Drive with them on the freeway and rural roads, unfamiliar places. Have them figure out the directions as you are sitting next to them."
Lately, parents using technology to help monitor their teen drivers. Some insurance companies are helping them install cameras near the rearview mirror of the cars their kids are using. The camera only records when it senses an unpredictable move of the car.
"It only turns on if there is a sudden move, a sudden swerve. It will catch what happened inside the car and outside the car," Burke Moore said. "The programs I have seen, they will email you that video. It can be once a month, and you go over it with your teen and it is really a learning situation.
"There have been studies with those cameras where they have really seen a huge change in behavior when the kids see what they are doing and see the mistakes that they have made," she continued. "It is really an exciting technology and if you have the ability, consider installing one."
An Iowa study involving the cameras in cars to observe teen driving saw a 72 percent drop in safety-related events by mistake-prone young drivers after about two months.
Frequently, driver-monitoring cameras are installed at no cost to the parents. In March, American Family Insurance began offering the free cameras to their Minnesota and Wisconsin customers with young drivers.
Schools, parents and communities can learn more about driver education and safety at America's Driver License Headquarters TestQuestionsandAnswers.com. Try a Free DMV Practice Test online!