Auto Club Offers 10 Things Parents Can Do to Keep Their Teen Drivers Safe

First Annual National Teen Driver Safety Week Is October 15-20

(LOS ANGELES--Oct. 15, 2007) — The Automobile Club of Southern California urges parents of teenage drivers and soon-to-be drivers to improve their teens' safety by heeding tips from AAA's new list of "Ten Things Parents Can Do To Keep Their Teen Driver Safe." AAA is publicizing the list as part of the first annual national Teen Driver Safety Week, which runs Oct. 15-20. Automobile crashes are the leading cause of death for teens.

"Parents can have a tremendous impact on their teens' safety," said Kathy Downing, manager of the Auto Club's Driver Services. "Teen Driver Safety Week provides an opportunity for parents to focus on teen driver safety and take practical steps that can reduce teen driver crashes. AAA created a list of ten things parents can do to help keep their teen drivers safe all year long."

Know and understand their teens — Not all teens should drive at the same age. Teenagers mature, develop emotionally and become responsible at varying rates. Even responsible and mature teens are at risk for crashes, so the decision for them to start driving should be made by the family, including the time commitment required for a permit and license under California's Graduated Driver License law.

Be a positive and responsible role model — Teenagers learn from their parents' behavior. Parents' actions behind the wheel influence the driving behavior of their teens. Research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that often teens that have collisions and tickets are likely to have parents with similar driving records. Teens that are collision and ticket-free tend to have parents with clean driving records as well. So, buckle up, follow all traffic laws, don't drink and drive and don't drive aggressively, said Downing.

Locate a driving school — Driving is a risky activity for teens and warrants professional instruction. Driving schools that feature high degrees of interaction and instructors with more than the minimum amount of state-mandated training are suggested. Parents should select a driving school that encourages parental involvement and progress reports. The Auto Club offers a Teen Driving School with 12 locations in Southern California.

Practice might not make perfect, but it can make for better teen drivers — As an important supplement to formal driver education, supervised driving with parents provide teens with opportunities to reinforce proper driving techniques and skills and receive feedback from the people who care most about their safety and success. Plus, it's the law for teen drivers under age 18 in California. To help parents, AAA offers Teaching Your Teens To Drive, a parent coaching program to conduct supervised driving. Learn more at

Keep teen drivers free of teen passengers and off the road at night — Extensive research indicates that a teen driver's chances of crashing increase with each additional teen passenger. Research shows teen crash rates spike at night and that most nighttime crashes occur between 9 p.m. and midnight. GDL laws protect the newest teen drivers, but once the restriction period is over, parents still need to supervise their teen's driving.

Encourage teens to get enough sleep — Teens need about nine hours of sleep every night, but many teens fall short due to the combination of early-morning school start times and homework, sports, after-school jobs and other activities. A lack of sleep can negatively affect vision, hand-eye coordination, reaction time and judgment. If you suspect your teen is exhausted, exercise caution and drive them yourself, said Downing.

Eliminate the distractions — Cell phones and text messaging have rightly gotten significant media and legislative attention as hazardous distractions for teen drivers. With surveys reporting widespread use of distracting technology by teen drivers, more than one-third of states, including California have recently banned cell phone use by new teen drivers. California's law goes into effect next year. Parents should make it a strict rule for everyone in the household and model safe driving habits themselves, she said.

Create a parent-teen driving agreement — Having rules, conditions, restrictions and consequences of teens' driving written down in advance establishes driving as a privilege, and not something to be taken lightly or for granted. Parents should look to state graduated driver licensing programs as the minimum they should be enforcing. Parents should establish rules and consequences that they and their teens agree upon that extend beyond state laws. If the teen breaks a family driving rule, consequences should be enforced and the situation should be used as an opportunity for learning and discussion. Conversely, proper driving behavior should be encouraged and rewarded with additional liberties. AAA offers parent-teen driving agreements at

Set a time each week for discussion and review — Parental involvement and communication is critical in the prevention of teen-related crashes, injuries and fatalities. Designate a time each week to address concerns (both parent and teen), review the teen's driving performance and chart the progression towards established goals and benchmarks.

Make smart vehicle choice decisions for teens — As the family member most likely to crash, a teen should drive the safest vehicle the family owns. Things to consider are vehicle type (sedans are generally safer than sports cars, SUVs and pickup trucks), size (larger vehicles such as sedans fare better in crashes than smaller vehicles, often thought to be teen-friendly) and safety technology (front and side air bags, anti-lock brakes and stability control systems).