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Tips to keep teen drivers safe

Published 12:24pm Tuesday, March 22, 2011

By T.K. SMITH / Guest Columnist

Motor vehicle crashes remain the No. 1 cause of death for adolescents. Teen drivers (ages 16 to 19) are involved in fatal crashes at four times the rate of adult drivers (ages 25 to 69). Many teen driver-related injuries and deaths are preventable. In the National Young Driver Survey, 5,665 students shared their views of teen driving. Evidence from this survey supports the important role parents play in raising safe teen drivers. According to the research, teens who say their parents set rules and pay attention to their activities in a helpful, supportive way are half as likely to be in a crash.

Here are some tips from The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia:

-Set clear rules, boundaries and expectations. Rather than stating, “You’ll do as I say,” explain your reasoning. It’s about safety, not control. Make sure they understand rules are in place for their safety, not to control them.

-As their skills develop and they become more responsible, introduce new privileges.

-Be responsive. Listen to their concerns and, when appropriate, modify expectations to fit circumstances. Recognize their need to become independent. Reward responsible behavior with greater privileges.

-Let them know you can be counted on for help and support. How a parent shows support may be different from family to family, but it’s important teens know you can be relied on.

-Pay attention. To help teens make good safety decisions, keep the lines of communication open.

-Know where they are going and why, and discuss how they will get there and when they will be home. Provide alternatives to allow them to avoid unsafe driving situations.

-Lead by example. Follow the rules of the road. Always wear a seat belt. Don’t talk on a cell phone while driving. Don’t speed.

For more tips, visit Statefarm.com/teendriving.

Taking a closer look at driving through the eyes of teens reveals parents really do matter. Talk with an insurance professional about safety programs that help teens become safer drivers, while saving their parents money.

T.K. Smith is a State Farm agent whose office is located in Hoover. You can reach her at thecia.kelly-smith.iv2t@statefarm.com

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