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Keeping newly licensed teen drivers safe

When teens get their driver's license, they may feel a great deal of independence. Their parents, however, may feel considerable worries. This includes fears about their child's safety.

Teens can face dangers when out on the roads. Some of these risks come from the conduct of other drivers. However, others can come from a young driver's own inexperience behind the wheel. For example, a lack of experience in driving might leave teens more prone to making poor safety judgments behind the wheel. This could include being more prone to making decisions that could lead to distracted, drowsy or drunk driving.

Teens' lives can be greatly impacted by traffic accidents. The injuries coming from such crashes could have implications that last long into a teen's future. And sadly, such accidents sometimes cut teens' lives tragically short. Motor vehicle crashes are a top cause of teen deaths here in America.

Research suggests that teen drivers may be particularly at risk for accidents in the time right after they get their license. This is a time when the independence of being able to drive on one's own and driving inexperience could combine in a potentially dangerous way.

One of the things that could help with improving the driving judgement of newly license drivers is them getting more driving experience. This raises a critical question for parents: What can parents do to keep their teen drivers safe as such drivers are gaining experience behind the wheel?

Steps parents can take when it comes to this include:

  • Supervising their young drivers: Young drivers may stay more safety-focused when they know a parent is closely watching them. So, parent-supervised driving could help provide a safer route for teen drivers when it comes to gaining driving experience.
  • Having driving safety discussions: Teens may not always be aware of and understand the great danger that can come from things such as driving while tired, distracted or under the influence of alcohol. Parents having honest and open discussions with their kids about these safety risks could help with improving the traffic safety awareness of young drivers when they are logging time behind the wheel.
  • Setting appropriate driving rules: What household driving rules parents set, and how strongly they enforce them, has the potential to impact how teens act when they start to drive on their own. When thinking about what household driving rules to set for their teens, parents may want to give careful thought to the teen driver safety rules of their state and what types of unsafe driving are common among young drivers.

Do you have any tips for parents here in Maryland when it comes to taking these types of steps for trying to protect the safety of young drivers?

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