NJ Teen Safe Driving Coalition offers safety tips for parents, teens

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Teens across New Jersey are preparing to celebrate the end of the school year, high school graduations and the arrival of summer. But the New Jersey Teen Safe Driving Coalition warns parents not to stop monitoring their teens’ driving habits.

Memorial Day marks the start of the 100 deadliest days on the road for teens. From Memorial Day to Labor Day in 2012, 12 people were killed in New Jersey in crashes involving teen drivers, according to National Safety Council (NSC) estimates based on data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. More than 1,000 people nationwide were killed in teen-related crashes during the same time period. Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the U.S.

“When it comes to safety, parents shouldn’t take the summer off,” said Pam Fischer, leader of the New Jersey Teen Safe Driving Coalition, an initiative of the National Safety Council and The Allstate Foundation. “Too many of these preventable crashes happen during months that should be fun and carefree. Making sure teens always drive safely with a particular focus on avoiding distractions caused by passengers and cell phones, and come home earlier instead of staying out late will ensure this time of the year is all it should be.”

Research from The Allstate Foundation confirms parents are the primary influence on their teens’ driving habits. Parents can help reduce their teens’ crash risk by being effective driving coaches. That includes:

Driving at least 30 minutes each week with a newly licensed teen

Practicing specific skills together and providing teens feedback in the critical areas of:

Scanning the road ahead to recognize and respond to hazards

Controlling speed, stopping, turning, and maintaining a safe following distance

Managing the highest risks, such as night driving and with their friends

Signing up to receive weekly practice tips and suggestions via email, and discussing and signing a Parent-Teen Driving Agreement (available in English and Spanish).

Parents are urged to review New Jersey’s Graduated Driver Licensing program, which addresses the greatest risk factors for teens: driving late at night, with multiple passengers, while using electronic devices, and unbelted. However, state laws are minimum guidelines and do not always represent the best practices for keeping teens safe.

Establishing household driving guidelines (and the consequences for breaking them) with a parent-teen driving agreement is best. Parents can find additional information at DriveitHOME.org – an online resource developed by the National Safety Council.

Parents also can get involved in the New Jersey Teen Safe Driving Coalition, which NSC and The Allstate Foundation founded in 2010. See www.nsc.org/njteens-gdl4u  .

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