A few weeks ago we ran a news story on One More Second in which QUT research revealed parents were vital in encouraging their children to obey the rules of the road, and young drivers were keen to show their parents they could be trusted.

In fact, said researchers, parents could actually hold more power than the police in enforcing driver restrictions.

However, the research highlighted a problem – do parents actually KNOW all of the relevant restrictions for teenage drivers in their countries/ states and are they setting the correct rules?

The researchers discovered that, broadly speaking, parents’ knowledge of restrictions such as zero alcohol limits and mobile phone use was strong, but when it came to other rules parents were less clear – so some implemented their own rules.

There are several problems with this including:

  • Parents could be giving their teenage children conflicting advice regarding rules of the road
  • Parents could put added pressure on their teenage children if they impose too many restrictions that are not required by law
  • The support and input of parents would be much more effective if they had a clear knowledge of the rules of the road and restrictions on new drivers

Considering that the researchers found novice drivers to be so keen to show their parents they could be trusted, it is important that parents get it right when it comes to interacting with their children about road safety.

So, what can parents do to make sure they give their teenage drivers the correct information?

Recently, NHTSA’s ‘5 to Drive’ campaign, run annually to coincide with Teen Driver Safety Week in the U.S., addressed the five most dangerous and deadly behaviors for teen drivers which parents should talk to their teens about.

  1. No alcohol – The minimum legal drinking age in every state in the U.S. is 21. However, in 2013, among 15- to 20-year-old drivers killed in crashes, 29 per cent had been drinking.
  2. No cell phone use or texting while driving – Texting or dialing while driving is more than just risky – it’s deadly. In 2013, among drivers 15 to 19 years old involved in fatal crashes, 11 per cent were reported as distracted at the time of the crash. This age group has the highest percentage of drivers distracted by phone use. In 2013, 318 people were killed in crashes that involved a distracted teen driver.
  3. No driving or riding without a seat belt – In 2013, more than half (55 per cent) of all 15- to 20-year-old occupants of passenger vehicles killed in crashes were unrestrained.
  4. No speeding – In 2013, speeding was a factor in 42 per cent of the crashes that killed 15- to 20-year-old drivers.
  5. No extra passengers – NHTSA data shows that a teenage driver is 2.5 times more likely to engage in risky behaviors when driving with one teenage passenger and three times more likely with multiple teenage passengers

Although aimed at young drivers in the U.S., the above list is a useful starting point for any parent, even those based outside of the United States. Specific rules of the road, including special requirements for teen drivers, can be obtained from local governments or licensing agencies.

One More Second also has a family section with a dedicated Parent Zone, which includes a quick knowledge test, checklist and other advice for helping keep teen drivers safe on the road.

Do you have teenagers who are learning to drive? Do you have any concerns about how to talk about road safety with them, or do you have tips of your own for other parents?

I’d love to hear from you.


E-mail: oms@virtualriskmanager.net
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