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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Teens Encouraged to Practice Safe Driving

PennDOT Encourages Teen Drivers to Avoid Rookie Mistakes on the Road

During this year's National Teen Driver Safety Week, PennDOT reminded teen drivers and their parents/guardians to be aware of the behaviors that cause most teen driver crashes.

"While Pennsylvania has realized a reduction in crashes involving 16- and 17-year-old drivers over the past several years, due in part to Pennsylvania's graduated driver licensing program, many teen drivers still do not appreciate the complexity of driving," PennDOT Secretary Allen D. Biehler, P.E., said. "Drivers must constantly evaluate complex situations, make split-second decisions and perform intricate maneuvers. A teen driver's lack of experience and potential for risk-taking can be a dangerous, and sometimes deadly, mix."

In Pennsylvania in 2007, 104 16- or 17-year-old driver fatalities were the direct result of 9,833 crashes.

The main contributors of those crashes were driver inexperience, driving too fast for conditions, and improper or careless turning. Statistics prove that 37 percent of the crashes involving a 16- or 17-year-old driver in 2007 involved at least one of these factors.

What's more, driver distractions like using a cell phone, text messaging, having other teen passengers in a vehicle with the teen driver, adjusting the radio or eating while driving, all were major contributors to highway crashes. These behaviors take the teen driver's full attention away from driving. In 2007, driver distractions contributed to nearly 1,000 crashes involving 16- and 17-year old drivers.

Driving practice, limiting the number of passengers a teen driver can have in a vehicle, setting a good example for the teen driver, abiding by the law and exercising common sense can all reduce the risk of crashing.

With this in mind, PennDOT offers the following safety tips to teen drivers:

• Always buckle your seat belt.
• Never drink and drive. Drinking under the age of 21 is illegal.
• Do not talk or text on your cell phone while driving. It’s illegal.
• Obey the speed limit. Speeding gives you less time to react.
• Do not eat or drink while driving.
• Adjust radio and temperature controls before departing for your trip, and later, have your passenger adjust the controls for you, or pull over to a safe place to adjust the controls.
• A truck driver cannot see you if you cannot see his mirrors.
• Get directions and plan ahead. Always know where you are going.
• Depart early, and give yourself plenty of time to get there.
• Expect the unexpected.

PennDOT also reminds parents and guardians that adult supervision is a major part of keeping teen driver safety, as adults have the ability to best assess the teen driver's knowledge, skills and maturity. You should:

• Talk to your teen about driving before he or she turns 16.
• Sign a parent/teen driving contract.
• Restrict the number of passengers your teen is allowed to have in their vehicle.
• Until your teen gathers more experience, limit his or her driving at dawn, dusk and at night.
• Set a curfew, and enforce it.
• Gradually increase the amount of time and distance your teen is permitted to drive.
• When driving, do not allow your teen to eat or drink.
• Prohibit your teen from using a cell phone while driving.
• Enforce driving at speed limit and observing other rules of the road.
• Ride with your teen regularly to monitor his or her driving skills.

To read more tips for teens and parents, and to download the Pennsylvania Driver's and the How to Steer Them to Safe Driving manuals, go to and click on the Teen Driver Information Center.

Along with motor vehicle safety, driver education helps ensure the safety of Americans. Whether you're getting your Commercial Drivers License, your Learner's Permit, or your Motorcycle License, America's Driver's License Headquarters is

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Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32004-3359

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