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The original item was published from 6/2/2011 3:19:47 PM to 6/11/2011 12:05:01 AM.

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Posted on: March 25, 2011

[ARCHIVED] Teen Driver Safety

Springtime marks the beginning of the driving season. It also marks the time when new teen drivers receive their instruction permit and Graduated Drivers License (GDL).

In Illinois, the Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) Program consists of three progressive stages of driving for drivers ages 15-20. Young drivers must earn the right to move from one phase to the next based on their driving behavior.

And with good reason too. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, traffic crashes are the leading cause of fatalities for teens and account for 44% of all teen death. This does not take into account the number of teens that are injured, property damaged and increased insurance premiums as a result of crashes. The risk of teen driver crashes and their consequences consist of much more than fatalities.

The Itasca based National Safety Council publishes a booklet entitled “Teen Driver. A family Guide to Teen Driver Safety.” The guide provides twelve research proven ways to reduce the risk of your teen being involved in a fatal motor vehicle crash.

• All teen’s risk of being in a car crash is at a lifetime high in their first 12 to 24 months of driving. Novice teen drivers are at a greater risk simply because of their youth and lack of driving experience. Risky behavior only raises the stakes that every teen faces:
o Scientific evidence tells us two conditions are more dangerous fro a teen driver: Driving with passengers and driving at night.
o Additionally, risky behavior such as not wearing a seat belt, drinking and driving, and speeding adds to the risk teens face behind the wheel.

• There are proven ways for families to reduce their teen’s crash risk. The greatest safety benefit comes from parents and teens working together to manage the teen driving experience.
• Developing a Family Plan for the entire process of learning to drive builds on the cornerstone of teen driving safety- parental involvement.
• A good deal of the risk teens face depends upon what kind of vehicle they are in, including size and safety features.
• Too few parents realize what a critical safety difference they can make as role models, guides and partners during the teen driving experience.
• The gradual introduction of greater driving challenges and exposure to the risk over time is a key element of the Graduated Driver Licensing system that Illinois employs.
• Restrictions on driving with passengers and driving at night during the first 12 to 24 months after a teens gets a license, combined with extensive driving practice before the license and ongoing parental involvement throughout, reduce exposure to crash risk and save lives, money and property.
• Our state’s drivers licensing regulations may not deliver the greatest safety measures to your teen driver. Review our state law and the research evidence and decide of you need to add restrictions to your teen’s driving guidelines.
• Only a combination of practice, gradual exposure to higher risk situations and ongoing parental involvement, can reduce a teen’s chance of crashing.
• Driver’s Education can teach a teen to operate a vehicle and the rules of the road, but the science tells us that traditional Driver Ed doesn’t reduce a teen’s exposure to crash risk.
• A written Parent/Teen Agreement is an essential part of managing a teens’ driving experience. It sets clear expectations for everyone by listing privileges, restrictions and what a teen must do to show his parent he’s ready for increased driving independence.
• We all want the all want the same thing: A teen driver who has been crash-free and violation-free for months after getting a license, has had his restrictions lifted gradually over that time and is now ready for full driving independence.

By actively managing your teen’s driving experience during his formative years, parents can greatly reduce the risk of their teen being involved in a fatal motor vehicle crash.

Sources: National Safety Council
Illinois Secretary of State

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