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Teen drivers: Train them well

hazardous conditions they’ll face as licensed drivers, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffi c Safety’s fi rst naturalistic study using in- vehicle cameras.

R T 68%

parents reported that they had limited opportunities to drive together because of busy schedules—both

their own and the teen’s. –October 2010

The study, released in October,

found that teens receive most of their driving training on routine trips along the same few routes. Few teens gained signifi cant experience in rush hour traffi c, at night, in bad weather or other commonly chal- lenging situations. “Until now, there’s been almost

no scientifi c research on what parents actually do while supervis- ing their teens’ driving,” said AAA Foundation CEO Peter Kissinger. When parents in the study were

asked about their plans for their teens’ driving, roughly half reported they wanted their teens to get “a lot of practice.” However, only a quar- ter mentioned plans to practice in a variety of situations and conditions. “Driving in a variety of settings is

the best way to build competence,” Kissinger said. Colorado law requires 50 hours of supervised drive time for new teen drivers. In the study, the average weekly amount of supervised driv- ing varied greatly among families, ranging from just 20 minutes to almost fi ve hours. Most parents (68%) reported that they had lim-

10 EnCompass January/February 2011

eens may not get enough supervised driving prac- tice per week, and parents rarely expose them to the

ited opportunities to drive together because of busy schedules—both their own and the teen’s.

When supervising a new teen driver, parents need to: • Ensure ample supervised practice in all driving situations, including frequent practice at night, in bad weather, in heavy city traffi c, on rural highways and on busy inter- states.

• Share their experience to help teens see the “big picture” and spot dangers that aren’t obvi- ous, including unexpected things other drivers might do. Parents should use “I” statements, explaining what they would do in various situations. For example, “Even when I have a green light,

I always look both ways to make sure other cars are stopping, because sometimes they don’t.”

AAA has a range of tools and resources for teen drivers and their parents, many free and oth- ers available at a small cost. The comprehensive teen driving website Keys2Drive ( com) includes AAA StartSmart, a series of online lessons based on the National Institutes of Health’s Checkpoints program, which has been proven to help parents improve teen driver safety. The site also offers an online version of AAA’s Dare To Prepare work- shop, and the popular Teaching Your Teen To Drive home course, a 13-lesson DVD and handbook. 

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