2008-10-30 / Family

PennDOT Reminds Teen Drivers To Avoid "Rookie Mistakes" Behind Wheel

As part of National Teen Driver Safety Week, PennDOT reminds teen drivers and their parents/ guardians to be aware of the behaviors that cause most teen driver crashes.

"While Pennsylvania has realized a reduction in crashes involving 16- and 17-year-old drivers over the past several years, due in part to Pennsylvania's graduated driver licensing program, many teen drivers still do not appreciate the complexity of driving," PennDOT Secretary Allen D. Biehler, P.E., said. "Drivers must constantly evaluate complex situations, make split-second decisions and perform intricate maneuvers. A teen driver's lack of experience and potential for risk-taking can be a dangerous, and sometimes deadly, mix."

There were 9,833 crashes involving a 16- or 17-year-old driver in Pennsylvania in 2007, resulting in 104 fatalities. Although more than one factor may contribute to a crash, statistics show that driving too fast for conditions, driver inexperience and improper or careless turning were the main contributors of those crashes. In fact, 37 percent of the crashes involving a 16- or 17-yearold driver in 2007 involved at least one of these factors.

Additionally, driver distractions, such as using a cellphone, text messaging, having other teen passengers in a vehicle with the teen driver, adjusting the radio or eating while driving, are also major contributors to highway crashes as these behaviors take the teen driver's full attention away from the driving task. Driver distractions contributed to nearly 1,000 crashes involving 16- and 17-year old drivers in 2007.

The risk of a crash involving any of these factors can be reduced through practice, limiting the number of passengers a teen driver can have in a vehicle, setting a good example for the teen driver, abiding by the law and exercising common sense.

With this in mind, PennDOT offers the following safety tips to teen drivers:

Always wear your seat belt.

Don't drink and drive. Drinking under the age of 21 is illegal.

Don't talk or text on your cellphone while driving.

Obey the speed limit. Going too fast gives you less time to react.

Don't eat or drink while driving.

Adjust radio and climate controls before beginning your trip, have your passenger adjust the controls for you or pull over to a safe place to adjust the controls.

If you can not see a truck's mirrors the driver cannot see you.

Plan ahead; know where you are going and get directions.

Leave early. Give yourself plenty of time to get there.

Expect the unexpected. You never know what can happen.

PennDOT also wants to remind parents/guardians that adult supervision is a critical component of keeping teen drivers safe on the roads, as they have the ability to best assess the teen driver's knowledge, skills and maturity. Adults should:

Talk about driving with your teen before they turn 16.

Establish a parent/teen driving contract.

Limit the number of passengers your teen is allowed to have in their vehicle.

Limit driving at dawn, dusk and at night until your teen gathers more experience.

Enforce a curfew.

Gradually increase the amount of time and distance you allow your teen to drive.

Do not allow your teen to eat or drink while driving.

Do not allow your teen to use a cellphone while driving.

Enforce observance of speed limits and other rules of the road.

Ride with your teen occasionally to monitor his or her driving skills.

For more tips for teens and parents, and to download the Pennsylvania Driver's and the How to Steer Them to Safe Driving manuals, visit www.dmv.state.pa.us and click on the Teen Driver Information Center.

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