Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Teens and Driving

There is no easy way to discuss this topic. Auto accidents are the leading cause of death of American teenagers, killing nearly 6,000 each year. Anything that can reduce this number, and the anguish it represents, is welcome news for parents.

The American Automobile Association (AAA) has long been concerned with the dangers posed by new drivers, who often lack both  judgment and experience. Making things even more difficult is the social aspect of driving, which prompts teens to want to drive with friends in the car, sometimes with music blasting and with other distractions that add to the inherent dangers of operating an almost two ton machine on a road with other vehicles. The AAA has recently launched a new website to provide information to parents to help their children through every step of the driving process, from pre-permit education, through getting a learner's permit, to becoming ready to drive solo. The website is state specific; when you go to the web address it will provide the specific information on the state you are searching from and let you look at information from other states as well. This is particularly useful, because states have taken many steps to make teen driving safer, including graduated licensing and restrictions on when and with whom teens may drive. Of course, state laws are only a minimum standard. Parents can always impose their own rules and restrictions. We know parents who won't give their teens the car keys until they pass Mom's (or Dad's) Road Test, a far tougher test than any state examiner will provide.

By using interactive features and including sections for both parents (on teaching teens to drive) and young people (with lots of bells and whistles to keep the information on driving safely interesting), the website is one more tool in  helping to keep our children safe. 

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