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Teens Learning to Drive During Pandemic Parents Can Help!

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Father teaching son how to drive

During the pandemic, many teens have had to make changes in their plans to get their driver’s  license. With some driving schools closed due to COVID-19, more parents took over the  responsibility of providing training. One thing that has not changed is that motor vehicle crashes  continue to be the leading cause of death for teens 15-to-19 years old in the U.S. and in Texas.  And it is not just the teen drivers at risk, it is also their passengers and younger teens, who are  not even driving yet, that are at risk. Driver inexperience is one of the main reasons that teens  are more likely to be in a crash. Setting guidelines and rules, parents can help make their teens  safer drivers. Parents have more influence over their teens than they may think.  

A survey conducted by State Farm Insurance showed that nearly nine out of 10 teens admitted  to engaging in at least one cellphone behavior while driving. Two-thirds of teens said they  program a navigation app while driving. Slightly less than half said they read text messages or  talk on a hand-held phone when behind the wheel. Despite teens acknowledging that these  activities can be distracting, they still use their phones while driving.  

The survey also pointed out that teens whose parents use cellphones while driving were  significantly more likely to engage in each phone activity. 

Here is a list from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration 

• Remind your teen driver that driving is a privilege, not a right. If they aren’t following the  rules of the road, they don’t get to have the keys to the car.  

• Talk to your teen driver about driving laws. If they can’t follow the law, they can’t drive  the car. You could save their life. 

• Talking to your child about the importance of safe driving habits may feel tiresome for  both parent and teen at times but keep working at it. They are listening and they depend  on you to set and enforce the rules. 

• Practice constant communication about safe driving skills. Self-reported surveys show  that teens with parents who set and enforce firm rules for driving typically engage in less  risky driving behaviors and are involved in fewer crashes. Don’t look at the conversation  as nagging or bothersome — your teen is counting on you to not only set a good  example, but to enforce the rules.  

• Be a good role model for your teen driver and set an example with your own safe driving  habits.  

Talk to your teen about safe cell phone use while in the car. Encourage them to stow their  phones while driving, designate a texter, or to pull over before answering phone calls or  responding to text messages.  

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Nutrition Education Associate, Sharon Mitchiner, Galveston  County, reminds parents to talk to their teens about staying safe on the road. Remember, one of  the most important safety features for your teen driver is YOU.

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