The summer season is quickly approaching and many teen drivers are hitting the road for the very first time. In Our country, the proportion of motor vehicle accidents jumps dramatically between May and September, making this a perfect time to recognize National Youth Traffic Safety Month and learn more about how to keep teens safe behind the wheel. According to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Association, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for 15 to 20 year-olds and in 2009 about 10 teens died every day from motor vehicle crashes in the US. This is a frightening statistic, and here at the Erie County Clerk’s Office we are asking parents to talk to their teens about safe driving.
First of all, when teens receive their learner’s permit, they need to be aware of the rules:
They must have their permit for six months before scheduling a road test, unless they are 17 and have taken driver’s education classes. If the permit holder will be 18 at the time of the road test, this requirement is also waived.
New drivers must also record 50 hours of supervised driving before they can take the road test, regardless of age or participation in driver education classes. Fifteen of these hours must take place after dark, to gain experience in low-visibility driving conditions.
When practicing driving, teens can have only one non-family member under the age of 21 in the car. Having too many passengers in their car can be distracting and according to the National Security Council, can also influence risk-taking behavior. One risky behavior that is most common among teens not using a seal belt – so make sure you and your teen buckle up.
Young drivers also cannot operate any electronic devices (including iPods, phones and gaming devices) while behind the wheel. This brings up another dangerous problem: texting while driving. According to a recent study, drivers are 23 times more likely to be in an accident if they are texting while driving and up to 80 percent of fatal accidents involve distracted driving. Young drivers need to be aware that not only can texting while driving mean a $150 fine, but it may also result in an unnecessary tragedy.
One way parents can curb texting while driving is by having their son or daughter put a mobile application on their cell phone. One program, Mobilesafer, automatically activates when you drive, can make and receive hands free calls, quiets alerts so you’re not urged to answer and even sends custom auto reply messages. Some cell phone carriers offer their own service as well, so check with your provider to see what’s available.
Parents, talk to your children about texting while driving and make sure you set a good example yourself. When your teen takes their permit test, have them sign our anti-texting pledge at the Auto Bureau and make sure they’re aware of how dangerous their actions can be behind the wheel.
Please take the time this month to talk to your teen about safe driving skills. Explain to them that any carelessness puts not only themselves, but everyone on the road at risk. For more information, or to download our anti-texting pledge and teen driver brochure, visit our website at www.erie.gov/clerk