Getting a driver’s license is a teenager’s rite of passage, but also a time to educate teens on their new, important responsibility as a driver.
This week (Sunday, Oct. 20-Saturday, Oct. 26) is National Teen Driver Safety Week, and the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) encourages parents and guardians to talk to their teen about safe driving habits and the rules of the road intended to keep them safe.
“Teen drivers don’t have the same experiences or skills of older drivers with many more years and miles on the road,” OTS Director Barbara Rooney said. “Avoiding bad, dangerous habits behind the wheel is critical for the safety of teens.”
Driving or riding in the car is one of the riskiest activities teens are involved in on a daily basis. Vehicle crashes remain the leading cause of death for teens between the ages of 15 and 18. Teen drivers are also involved in crashes at three times the rate of any other age group, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA).
Parents or guardians should take the time to educate their teen on the consequences of bad behaviors while driving, such as speeding or using a cell phone. California law bans drivers under 18 from using electronic devices for any reason, including hands-free.
In order to reduce the risk for teen drivers, the OTS asks parents to take the following steps to involve themselves in managing their teen’s driving habits and skills:
- Understand California’s Graduated Driver License (GDL) laws, which place restrictions on driving with passengers and at night (11 p.m.-5 a.m.) during a teen’s first year with a license.
- Be a good role model by driving how you would want your teen to drive.
- Set ground rules like staying off the phone while driving, not giving friends rides, following the speed limit and never driving after drinking or using drugs that impair.
- Establish consequences. Don’t be afraid to discipline if your teen breaks the rules.
- Reinforce the ramifications for violating the zero-tolerance law for alcohol.
- Remind them to never ride with someone who has been drinking or is impaired.
Parents and guardians can sign their teen up for a free “Start Smart” class by contacting their local California Highway Patrol (CHP) office. “Start Smart” is a driver safety education program funded by the OTS that teaches soon-to-be and newly licensed teens about GDL laws, ways to avoid crashes and the dangers of speeding and distracted driving.
The OTS administers funding for traffic safety programs statewide with the goal of reducing crashes that result in deaths, injuries, and economic losses. The OTS is a department under the California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA).]]>