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National Teen Safety – Driving

Posted on September 24, 2020

On October 18, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will launch  National Teen Driver Safety Week, a national campaign designed to  help young drivers become safe drivers.  The campaign focuses on reminding parents to have important conversations with their teens before and during the teen’s first year of driving.  NHTSA recommends starting the conversation early about safe driving habits and continuing the conversation “every day throughout the year.”   NHTSA notes that, “Even if it seems like they’re tuning you out, keep reinforcing these rules. They’re listening — your constant reminders about these powerful messages will get through.”[1]

In the United States, vehicle accidents are a leading cause of death for teens age 15-18.  The top two citations in the state of Florida for teens are 1) unlawful speed, and 2) careless driving.[2] Teen drivers’ lack of experience combined with lack of maturity result in speeding, distracted driving, and accidents. 

Fortunately, parents can help teens become better, more careful drivers.  NHTSA recommends that all parents consider implementing these safety measures:

  1. Talk to your teen about the privilege, not the right, to drive.  Note that a parent can rescind a teen’s driver’s license.
  2. Discuss driving laws.  If your teen cannot follow the laws, he or she cannot drive the car.
  3. Establish clear rules and boundaries for driving; define consequences and enforce them.
  4. Be the role model each time you drive.
  5. Draw up a basic contract for your teen to review and sign prior to learning to drive.

Include these topics in your conversations, rules, and contract:

Wear the seatbelt every time, everywhere – whether your teen is driving or is a passenger

Keep eyes on the road – eliminate distractions by requiring teens to put cellphones on “do not disturb” mode and store in a closed vehicle compartment before starting the vehicle.  Avoid cell phone use, eating, drinking, putting on makeup, or changing music or climate control buttons while driving.

Follow the law – obey all speed limits and posted signs.

Restrict the number of passengers – the risk of a fatal crash increases with additional passengers. 

Never drive impaired – stay away from drugs and alcohol.  Any driver under 21 with a blood alcohol level of .02% will have their license immediately suspended for 6 months.

Keep music at a low or medium level – so that you can hear a siren and react appropriately

Take school seriously – In order to obtain or keep a driver’s license in the state of Florida, teens must be in compliance with school attendance rules.

Stay focused – be aware of weather and road conditions

Check your vehicle – be sure it is in proper condition and has gas

For more information about safe driving tips for your teens, please visit Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles at flhsmv.gov/safety-center.

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[1] NHTSA https://www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov/get-materials/teen-safety/national-teen-driver-safety-week

[2] FLHSMV https://www.flhsmv.gov/safety-center/driving-safety/teen-drivers

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