Parents and Teens Both Get into the Safe Driving Groove

It is every teen’s dream to get that learner’s permit in their hand. After all, driving equates to freedom, doesn’t it? But let’s face it teenagers, we don’t know everything there is to know about driving a car. Did you know that car crashes are the leading cause of death in our age bracket? That’s a pretty scary thought!

The recent article in the Cincinnati Post about teen drivers is sort of eye-opening. Sure, we know to buckle our seat belts and make sure to use our turn signals and such. But who is going to really teach us about what to do if our brakes lock or how to get out of a dangerous skid? That is not exactly something our parents could or know how to teach us.

Yeah, they preach to us about safety on the road and tell us in theory how to get out of a dangerous driving situation, but until we actually experience it, all that talk is in one ear and out the other right? We humor the parents and we lead ourselves into a false sense of security. We think that those crashes will never happen to us. But the reality of it all is that we COULD be that next crash just waiting to happen.

Car manufacturer Toyota came up with a great driving awareness program called “Toyota Driving Expectations.” The catch is that we teenagers have to take the class with our parents! Now before all the grumbling starts, this class is quite an eye-opener for both us and the “adults.” They get put through their paces just as much as we do.

Each of us gets to experience our own driving courses; parents have different distractions thrown at them like ringing cell phones and fiddling with the radio, things we all do every day. Teenagers get to learn some defensive maneuvers and how to avoid crashes. Believe it or not, it’s interesting and fun to experience this stuff with your parents. We all learn something and have a better respect for each other’s driving abilities. And guess what? Parents will feel a little more secure and willing to let you drive!

Be sure to talk with them about the “Toyota Driving Expectations” program and visit the website at Toyota Teen Drive 365 to see if there is a class near you.

According to new scientific studies, the area of the brain that controls impulsive behavior doesn’t reach maturity until the age of 25. This has caused many people to reconsider the age that teens should be allowed to drive. Currently, many states allow teens as young as 16 the right to drive. However, statistics have proved that 16 year olds are dangerous drivers, have the highest auto related death rates, and more teens die while riding in vehicles driven by 16 year olds. What is interesting is that even though many parents and politicians feel that 16 is too young to drive, there is a certain degree of hesitancy when it comes to changing existing laws.

Some people look to the fact that many parents are tired of chaperoning their teens and look forward to the day when they can manage some of the responsibility of transportation themselves. But, ask any parent who has lost a child in a teen related auto crash, and they will quickly tell you that they would gladly chauffer their teen if it meant having their child back in their lives again.

Nearly all states have implemented changes that affect the way teens drive. Some of these changes include limiting the amount of passengers teens may have in the vehicle or decreasing the amount of time teens can drive alone. Nevertheless, though these rules have been put in place to help keep teens safe, they are frequently not enforced.

There is often a misconception behind the reasons why teens are involved in so many fatal crashes. The fatal crashes are often mistakenly blamed on alcohol or drugs. However, as current studies have shown, it is a matter of brain maturity, and not excessive teen drinking that contributes to the high rate of deaths associated with teen drivers.

When people put pressure on politicians to raise the drinking age, changes were made that ensured the drinking age would be 21. This has been a positive change that has undoubtedly saved many lives. Unfortunately, it seems that it may take more fatal crashes before politicians realize that the best way to protect teens from the dangers of driving is to similarly raise the driving age.

Read more driver education news in the Safe Driving Teen Monthly Bulletin. Each month the National Safety Commission publishes the bulletin for teens and parents designed to improve teen driver behavior, attitude, skills, and experience. Subscription Details