New Teen Driving Guidelines Issued by American Academy of Pediatrics
January 2, 2007
Parents, law enforcement officials, and communities nationwide have put their efforts into curbing risky teen driving, and now doctors are showing their determination to end teen fatalities as well. Deaths due to auto accidents are the number one killer of teenagers, and the AAP goes a step further to detail that highway crashes kill about 5,000 16-20 year olds each year, and two-thirds of those are male. About half a million teenagers are injured in such accidents.
Obviously, teenage drivers need some help when it comes to being behind the wheel. Driver education courses and behind-the-wheel training may educate a driver on the do’s and don’ts of the road, but they do not give teens the experience they need to know what they do (and don’t do) to put themselves at risk. This is where parents come in, and the AAP has issued some guidelines for pediatricians to help parents set rules for their teens when they are behind the wheel.
The AAP suggest doctors educate parents and teens about risky behaviors including being distracted by food, cell phones, or other passengers, and encourages doctors to counsel young drivers on the dangers of drinking (or doing drugs) and driving. Parents are encouraged to set rules, as well as monitor the vehicles in which the teen will be riding or driving.
Also, pediatricians support a “safe-ride” agreement between parents and teens. A teen agrees to call their parent for a ride if they (or their driver) are impaired, and the parent agrees to withhold judgment and drive their teen home. The AAP even offers a sample contract that can be tailored for parents and their teens, including conditions under which they will not drive, and consequences that will take place if rules are not followed.
It’s great that doctors have taken the oath to save lives a step further by being proactive in the cause of teen driving safety. Teens cannot be reminded enough how dangerous the road can be, and hopefully hearing it from all of the community will make a difference. If it at least saves one young life, it will be a huge difference.