A recent study emphasizes the important role that parents play in teaching safe driving to teenagers and recommends that they increase the training they provide to their young drivers in order to help prevent motor vehicle crashes.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, a nonprofit research and educational organization, researched the training that parents provide to their teenage drivers during the year-long learner's permit stage and found that parents are not giving them enough experience behind the wheel in challenging situations.
Almost half of the parents who were studied reported that there was at least one condition such as darkness, bad weather or heavy traffic that made them wary of allowing their teenagers to drive alone. However, despite the prevalence of these situations, more than one-third of the parents allowed their teenagers to get a full driver's license within one month of becoming eligible.
The researchers said there previously had been little scientific study of what guidance parents provide while supervising their teenagers' driving. By installing cameras in the participants' vehicles, the study discovered that the most common form of parental instruction involved direction on handling the vehicle, such as telling the driver to slow down. Perhaps not surprisingly, the instruction was often stressful and emotionally charged.
The study also found that there was much variation in the length of time parents spent practicing driving with their teenagers, and only one-in-four parents mentioned practicing driving in a variety of driving conditions.
Peter Kissinger, president and chief executive of the foundation, said the most dangerous time for teenage drivers is when they drive on their own during the first few years of having their licenses. Teens aren't experienced enough to recognize dangerous driving conditions and are often habitual cell phone users, leading to distracted driving accidents.
He recommends that parents spend as much time as possible practicing driving with their children to provide guidance in a variety of driving conditions. Doing so can have a significant impact on teenagers' later driving experiences.