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Parents Can Help Novice Drivers Improve Their Skills with a Teen Driving Evaluation

(Los Angeles, Aug. 24, 2005) — The first two years of driving are the riskiest for teen drivers, according to Kathy Downing, the Auto Club's Driving School Manager, Driver Services, noting that teen-agers 16–20 have the highest crash rates of all drivers.

To help parents improve their novice teen driver's driving skills, the Auto Club is offering Teen Driving Evaluations through the Auto Club Driving School. The behind-the-wheel evaluation is intended for teens that have completed their initial training and supervised practice under the state's Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) law. The Auto Club–sponsored California GDL law requires 50 hours of supervised driving practice — 10 of which must be completed during darkness. The evaluation should be scheduled a month to six weeks prior to taking the Dept. of Motor Vehicles road test to work on skills that are identified for improvement.

Poor visual search skills, distractions, speed, and vehicle space management are involved in many novice driver crashes. Such inexperience can cause even a simple driving mistake to result in a collision that causes property damage or injury and ultimately increased insurance rates, said Downing.

Parents often see the signs of their teens struggling with their driving skills by their unsafe lane changes, awkward maneuvers and near-misses, but they're not sure what to do about it, according to Downing.

"In a one-on-one session, our state-licensed driving instructor will evaluate the teen driver on a route designed to provide multiple opportunities to observe routine driving maneuvers," said Downing. "It takes about an hour and includes observation of the teen's pre-drive preparation, use of mirrors and turn signals, speed and space management, visual search skills, compliance with road signs and more." "This is a great intervention for teens struggling with near-misses, moving violations or crashes," said Downing.

Following the road evaluation the novice teen driver receives a check-list outlining the results. The instructor may recommend personalized training or more practice sessions with a parent to work on identified issues. In fact, Downing recommends that parents drive regularly with their teens, even after they've received their license, to monitor their skills.

The teen-ager must have a valid learner permit or driver license and the teen's parent or guardian must be an Auto Club member to sign up for the Teen Driving Evaluation. Evaluations are held at Auto Club Driving School locations, including Anaheim, Anaheim Hills, Burbank, Costa Mesa, Diamond Bar, Escondido, Grossmont, Long Beach, Riverside and Torrance.

For more information, pricing or to register for a Teen Driving Evaluation, call 1-877-428-2277, or click on


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The Automobile Club of Southern California is a member club affiliated with the American Automobile Association (AAA) national federation and serves members in the following California counties: Inyo, Imperial, Kern, Los Angeles, Mono, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Tulare, and Ventura.