When Kids Drive

What's a parent to do when a teen starts to drive? Read this report to learn what you can do to reduce the risks facing your family's newest driver.
Teen Drivers: Ticking Time-Bombs

Teens are anxious to
trade their bicycle for
"real wheels."

A driver's license is one of the most easily attained documents in the United States. In most states, new drivers need only pass a vision test and a written exam based on knowledge of traffic safety rules to obtain a learner's permit. Then with a minimum of on-the-road practice, a young person can easily pass the requirements for an unrestricted license. When you also consider that a first-year driver tends to overestimate his ability behind the wheel, it's no wonder kids are at risk.

The risks are substantial: Teenagers make up only 6.7 percent of drivers but account for 14 percent of drivers involved in fatal auto crashes. At 16 years, inexperience leads to 43.2 crashes per million miles driven. (By contrast "veteran" 17-year-old drivers experience 30.3 crashes per million miles.)

Why are teens the worst drivers? Because too many are easily distracted risk-takers. All too often, they fail to see a dangerous situation developing as they fiddle with radio dials, get swept away by their favorite songs, or pay more attention to their passengers than to oncoming traffic.

Another reason teens experience a higher percentage of crashes is simply that many have had little road experience, especially on dark, rainy nights and on slick streets.

Continued on page 2:  What Parents Can Do