2010-10-21 / Local & State

PennDOT Implores Teen Drivers To Focus Only On Safe Driving

PennDOT urges teen drivers to avoid deadly distractions – such as texting and talking on cellphones – and reminds parents of young drivers to always set a good example by driving safely.

Gov. Edward G. Rendell proclaimed Oct. 17-23 as Teen Driver Safety Week to coincide with the national observance.

“Driving – not chatting on the phone, texting, eating or doing something else – must be your primary focus at all times when you’re behind the wheel. Safely operating a vehicle requires complex evaluations, split-second decisions and intricate maneuvers,” said PennDOT Secretary Allen D. Biehler, P.E. “Because of these complexities, it is important for young, inexperienced drivers to focus their full attention on safe driving behaviors and remember driving is a privilege, not a right.”

From 2005 to 2009, there were 121,845 crashes involving at least one 16- to 19- year-old driver in Pennsylvania, resulting in 1,011 fatalities. Fifty-two percent of those crashes were the result of the teen driver driving too fast for conditions, driver inexperience, driver distraction and improper/ careless turning.

The risk of a crash involving any of these factors can be reduced through practice, limiting the number of passengers riding with a teen driver, parents setting a good example for the teen driver, obeying all rules of the road and exercising common sense.

With this in mind, Penn- DOT offers the following safety tips to teen drivers:

Always wear your seat belt.

Never drink and drive at any age; drinking under the age of 21 is illegal.

Avoid distractions behind the wheel, such as talking or texting on your cellphone, adjusting the radio, combing hair or applying makeup, and eating.

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

Adjust radio/climate controls before beginning your trip, have your passenger adjust the controls for you or adjust the controls when stopped.

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

Leave early and give yourself plenty of time to get there.

Expect the unexpected.

PennDOT also reminds parents that adult supervision is a critical component of keeping teen drivers safe on the roads, as parents are in the best position to assess the teen driver’s knowledge, skills and maturity. While this may be a focus when the teen driver has a learner’s permit, this responsibility continues even after the teen driver becomes licensed. Parents should:

Talk to your teen about safe driving skills 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 dawn, dusk and nighttime driving until your teen gathers more experience, and enforce a curfew. Remember, Pennsylvania law prohibits 16- and 17- year-old drivers with a junior driver’s license from driving between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.

Gradually increase the amount of time/distance your teen is allowed to drive.

Encourage your teen to avoid distractions behind the wheel, such as talking or texting on the cellphone.

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

Ride with your teen occasionally to monitor driving skills.

Set a good example.

For more information on young driver safety, visit Penn-DOT’s highway safety at www.DriveSafePA.org and select the “Young Driver” link under the Traffic Safety Information Center.

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