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Teen Driver Safety Week Emphasizes Household Rules

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is sponsoring Teen Driver Safety Week this week (October 18-24). The NHTSA is calling on parents and guardians to do their part in keeping young drivers safe. The agency is pushing the slogan "5 to Drive" to help parents set guidelines for the teen drivers in their homes.

The five things the NHTSA would like parents to emphasize are as follows:

  • No cell phones while driving
  • No extra passengers
  • No speeding
  • No alcohol
  • No driving or riding without a seat belt

While most states already have laws against each of these behaviors, the NHTSA is reminding people that the law is not the primary influencer of teen driver behavior, parents are. 

According to the NHTSA, 50 percent of teens will experience a car crash before they graduate from high school. Many of those accidents involve teen drivers breaking one or more of the rules covered in "5 to Drive." If teens avoid these high-risk behaviors, their odds of avoiding an accident or coming through the accident without suffering serious harm improve.

Graduated driver license programs often include bans on behaviors covered in the NHTSA list. In Illinois, drivers under the age of 19 are prohibited from using cell phones except in emergency situations. Drivers in their first year of licensing who are under 18 years of age are limited to one passenger under the age of 20 unless the passengers are siblings, stepsiblings, children or stepchildren of the driver. Illinois also maintains a zero tolerance policy for drivers under 21. That means any trace of alcohol found in the system of an underage driver will result in the loss of driving privileges.

Teen drivers lack the experience they need to make the right decision every time. Even responsible teens may have difficulty judging speed, adapting to changing conditions and negotiating traffic. The "5 to Drive" rules help teens avoid distractions and eliminate risks that can turn the driver's lack of experience into a tragedy.

Source: National Safety Council, "A Teen's Biggest Safety Threat is Sitting on the Driveway," October 2015 

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