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Daily Dose

Teen Drivers

1:30 to read

As you know, when teens start to drive, I am a huge advocate for parent - teen driving contracts. I wrote my own contracts for my boys but I recently found a website that all parents who are getting ready to have teen drivers need to be aware of.

Injuries from motor vehicle crashes are the #1 cause of death for teens in the United States.  Studies have shown that having limits and boundaries in place for new drivers reduces the number of motor vehicle accidents that new drivers experience. Although not all states have “graduated driver’s licenses”, all parents can have discussions about the privilege and responsibility of driving and set their own guidelines for their new teen driver.

The website www.youngdriverparenting.org was developed by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and is an interactive site for both parent and teen.  The program is entitled “Checkpoints”.  The website includes teen driving statistics to help parents keep their teen drivers safe as well as giving information about state-specific teen driving laws.

The site has a great interactive component to help parents create their own parent-teen driving “contract” that addresses such things as teen driving hours, number of passengers allowed, and boundaries for driving. These parameters can be modified as the teen becomes more experienced and meets the “checkpoints” that were agreed to.  It is a great site as it not only gives you a template for the agreement, but sends emails as the allotted amount of time has passed for each step of the contract.  You don’t have to remember what you and your teen agreed to, they email you and then you and your child can revisit the agreement and expand it over time as your driver becomes more experienced.

Instead of handing out my “dog eared” old driving contracts that I wrote for my boys, I am now going to send my patients to this site (which is also being sustained by the American Academy of Pediatrics).  

Teen drivers whose parents are actively involved in monitoring their driving are not only less risky drivers but know ahead of time what their parent’s expectations are. Having a teen involved proactively with driving rules is far preferable to regretting that limits, boundaries and parental rules were not discussed prior to allowing your new driver on the road.

The website is not only free it is also evidence based, and within 5 - 10 minutes of reviewing the site a family is set to go with their own checkpoint agreement.  Here’s to teen driver safety!

Your Teen

Keep Teen Drivers Safe

Firm parents keep teen drivers safe. No more texting in the car while driving.Your parenting style can make a huge difference in your teen's safety once he or she gets behind the wheel of a car.

Parents who set firm rules, but do so in a helpful, supportive way, can reduce the likelihood of their teen getting into an auto accident by half and decrease rates of drinking and driving, two new studies find. Positive rule-setting can also increase the odds a teen will wear a seatbelt and lessen the likelihood of talking or texting on a cell phone while driving. "Parent involvement really matters. Active parenting can save teenagers' lives," said Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg, an adolescent medicine specialist at the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. "Parents who give rules, set boundaries and monitor those boundaries with warmth and support can have a really dramatic effect on teen driving safety." Ginsburg is the lead author of two studies published online in Pediatric. Both studies were sponsored by State Farm Insurance. The first study looked at the association between parenting styles and teen driving behaviors and attitudes, while the second assessed teen behavior based on their access to a vehicle. It included a nationally representative sample of 5,665 teens in 9th through 11th grades. Parenting style was reported by the teens and fell into one of four categories: authoritative (high support along with rules and monitoring); authoritarian (low support with rules and monitoring), permissive (high support with low rules and monitoring), and uninvolved (low support and low rules). Teens who had authoritative or authoritarian parents wore seatbelts twice as often as teens with uninvolved parents. Teens with parents in these groups were also half as likely to speed as those with uninvolved parents. Teens with authoritative parents -- high support and rules -- were half as likely to get into a car accident, 71 percent less likely to drink and drive, and 29 percent less likely to talk or text on their cell phones while driving compared to teens with uninvolved parents. The second study included 2,167 teens and found that 70 percent had "primary access" to a vehicle. That didn't necessarily mean that the teens had their own cars, Ginsburg said, but it could mean they had easy access to the keys and didn't need to ask permission to take a family car. After controlling the data to account for the extra hours these teens likely spent behind the wheel, the researchers found that teens with easy access to a vehicle were more than twice as likely to crash, about 25 percent more likely to use a cell phone while driving and about 25 percent more likely to speed than teens who had to ask permission to use a car. Why the difference? Ginsburg said he suspects it's because teens with easy access to a car don't necessarily feel as accountable. They don't have anyone asking where they're going or whom they'll be with. "They miss out on that conversation and appropriate monitoring," he said. Parents should control the keys to the car for at least the first six to 12 months of driving, he added. Ginsburg said there are clear rules that must always be followed, and rules that will change as your teen gains experience and demonstrates responsibility. Those rules include:

  • Always wear your seatbelt.
  • Never speed.
  • Never drink and drive.
  • Never drive fatigued.
  • Never use your cell phone or text while driving.

Rules that can change as your child gains experience and skill include having passengers, driving at night, increased access to the car and driving in bad weather. Ginsburg said it's important to make sure there's a reward for your teen for good driving behavior. "There has to be something in it for them," he said. Most parents worry more about sex, drugs and drinking than they do about driving, but car crashes are the biggest threat to teen safety, Ginsburg added. "The great news is that parents really matter. And, when you stay involved and do so in a way that promotes safety, not control, driving becomes the greatest opportunity to promote their children's safety.

Your Teen

More Teens Texting While Driving

New study more teens are texting while driving.

One third of teens ages 16 and 17 say they have texted while driving a new study shows. That same study also shows that 48 percent of teens aged 12 to 17 say they have been in a car while the driver was texting.The study was conducted by the Pew Internet and American Life Project. Pew senior research specialist Amanda Lenhart said she was surprised "to hear (from teens) about how it’s often parents or other adults who are doing the texting or talking and driving, and how for many teens, this is scary or worrisome behavior." For its Teens and Distracted Driving study, Pew surveyed 800 teens ages 12 to 17 between June and September. The non-partisan organization also conducted nine focus groups with 74 additional teens in the cities of Ann Arbor, Mich., Denver, Atlanta and New York between June and October, in conjunction with the University of Michigan. "Much of the public discussion around these behaviors has focused on teens as young, inexperienced drivers, but some of the adults in these young peoples' lives are clearly not setting the best example either," said Mary Madden, a Pew senior research specialist who also worked on the survey. "Teens spoke not only of adults texting at the wheel, but also fumbling with GPS devices and being distracted because they're talking on the phone constantly," she said. "And the reactions from the teens we spoke with ranged from being really scared by these behaviors to feeling as though it wasn't a big deal." Among other findings from the Pew survey:
  • 52 percent of teens ages 16 and 17 who have cell phones say they have talked on their phones while driving.
  • 34 percent of teens ages 16 and 17 who text say they have done so while driving.
  • 48 percent of teens ages 12 to 17 say they have been in a car when the driver was texting.
  • 40 percent of teens ages 12 to 17 say they have been in a car when the driver "used a cell phone in a way that put themselves or others in danger."
  • 75 percent of teens ages 12 to 17 have a cell phone, and 66 percent of them send or receive text messages.
Boys and girls are "equally likely to report texting behind the wheel," Pew said, and while a third say they do so, "texting at the wheel is less common than having a conversation on the phone while driving." Pew did not further ask whether that driving and talking on the phone was being done hands-free. The teens in the focus groups had various reasons for texting and driving at the same time, Pew said, including "the need to report their whereabouts to friends and parents, getting directions and flirting with significant others." Some teens "felt as though they could safely manage a quick exchange of texts while the car was stopped. One high-school-aged boy shared that he would text 'only at a stop sign or light, but if it's a call, they have to wait or I'll hand it to my brother or whoever is next to me.' "

 

Daily Dose

Teen Drivers

1.30 to read

As you know, when teens start to drive, I am a huge advocate for parent - teen driving contracts. I wrote my own contracts for my boys but I recently found a website that all parents who are getting ready to have teen drivers need to be aware of.

Injuries from motor vehicle crashes are the #1 cause of death for teens in the United States.  Studies have shown that having limits and boundaries in place for new drivers reduces the number of motor vehicle accidents that new drivers experience. Although not all states have “graduated driver’s licenses”, all parents can have discussions about the privilege and responsibility of driving and set their own guidelines for their new teen driver.

The website www.youngdriverparenting.org was developed by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and is an interactive site for both parent and teen.  The program is entitled “Checkpoints”.  The website includes teen driving statistics to help parents keep their teen drivers safe as well as giving information about state-specific teen driving laws.

The site has a great interactive component to help parents create their own parent-teen driving “contract” that addresses such things as teen driving hours, number of passengers allowed, and boundaries for driving. These parameters can be modified as the teen becomes more experienced and meets the “checkpoints” that were agreed to.  It is a great site as it not only gives you a template for the agreement, but sends emails as the allotted amount of time has passed for each step of the contract.  You don’t have to remember what you and your teen agreed to, they email you and then you and your child can revisit the agreement and expand it over time as your driver becomes more experienced.

Instead of handing out my “dog eared” old driving contracts that I wrote for my boys, I am now going to send my patients to this site (which is also being sustained by the American Academy of Pediatrics).  

Teen drivers whose parents are actively involved in monitoring their driving are not only less risky drivers but know ahead of time what their parent’s expectations are. Having a teen involved proactively with driving rules is far preferable to regretting that limits, boundaries and parental rules were not discussed prior to allowing your new driver on the road.

The website is not only free it is also evidence based, and within 5 - 10 minutes of reviewing the site a family is set to go with their own checkpoint agreement.  Here’s to teen driver safety!

Daily Dose

Keep Your Teen Safe While Driving

1.30 to read

Parents of teenage drivers take note: you must establish and enforce the rules of the road to keep your teen safe.  I know when my kids first started to drive, I was a nervouse wreck! The best way to keep your nerves in check? Establish and enforce the rules of the road. Studies have shown that parents who initially limit their teens driving privileges have fewer traffic tickets and accidents than teens whose parents do not apply restrictions.

As you know from previous posts, I am a huge advocate of graduated drivers licenses and driving contracts between parents and their new teen drivers.  Motor vehicle injuries continue to be the leading cause of death in teens with approximately 4,200 deaths per year. Teenage accidents and injuries also resulted in over 380,000 emergency room visits in 2007.

To reduce the risk of injury and death, studies have shown the importance of graduated drivers licenses (GDL), which are now in effect in 49 states and the District of Columbia. But in order for GDL to work parents must be aware of the laws in their states and then must enforce these laws with their teens. I have seen too many parents of teens in my practice who are either not familiar with the concept of GDL or who do not feel that these rules need to be enforced. What are they thinking? Anything that may prevent teenage car accidents and injury is something we should all be aware of as there is really nothing more frightening to me than putting your child behind the wheel of a car!

To help increase awareness, the CDC developed a campaign targeting the parents of teen drivers. This program is called “Parents are the Key” and is being tested in several states. This campaign will help parents manage their teens driving behaviors while simultaneously educating teens about high-risk activities that may lead to car accidents. Things like drinking and driving, number of passengers in their car, banning cell phone use and texting while driving, and limiting driving after dark all help reduce accidents and death.

The CDC has information on their website that will help you and your teen stay safe and alert behind the wheel. Take advantage of this opportunity, especially if you have a teen that is begging to start driving! The responsibilities with obtaining a driver’s license need to involve both parent and teen.

That’s your daily dose, we’ll chat again tomorrow.

More Information: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Parents Are the Key

Daily Dose

No More Texting While Driving!

1.00 to read

I recently heard on the evening news that April is National Distracted Driving Awareness month.  It really caught my ear as I had sent my college son a text just yesterday and his reply was “I am on my way to work!”  I could have dropped the phone (which is what I really need to do) as that means he text me while driving!!  I hate to “throw him under the bus”, but......how many times have I told him “don’t ever text while driving”. I really think I said something more emphatic than that, but obviously it did not sink in. It gives me a stomachache to think about teens (and adults who will admit to it) that are texting while driving., especially my own! Unfortunately, I know of a young girl who died as a result of this....... and there are countless stories in the news. 

A new study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that distracted driving is the #1 cause of teen deaths. A different study done by AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that using digital devices is the #1 cause of distracted driving. It doesn’t take much to add these two studies together and realize that texting and driving could be a deadly combination. It is almost like this generation’s version of drinking and driving!  While they seem to be aware of the hazards of using alcohol and getting behind the wheel (they are using more designated drivers, cabs etc) they do not equate texting with “being under the influence.”  

The NHTSA study stated that the “average text takes our eyes off the road for five seconds” which would allow a car traveling at 55 mph to travel the length of a football field. A texting driver is 23 times more likely to get into a crash than a non-texting driver.  But teens and young adult drivers feel as if they can “safely text” while driving!  As my kids like to tell me, “we aren’t stupid Mom”, it’s that whole invincible age. 

Parents, educators and national safety campaigns are going to have to take this issue and make it a national safety campaign. There are not enough police to stop every driver who is texting, but there are enough parents to keep up the work and get the word out to every new driver on up, including ourselves. TEXTING and driving is not safe. It can kill you or someone else. Let’s not just make it a day, week or month to observe. We all need to put down the phones while driving, 365 days a year, as nothing is that important!!  I hope my own children are reading this as well. 

That’s your daily dose for today.  We’ll chat again tomorrow.

Your Teen

Teens: Fatal Car Crashes Down

2:00

It seems like there are far too many studies reporting bad outcomes where teens are involved; too much drinking, eating, smoking and risky behaviors.

However, a recent study concludes that fatal car crashes involving teens have dropped by over half in the last decade. Researchers believe one reason may be that more teenagers are receiving driving licenses attached with restrictions.

"Many factors are probably at play, but there is wide agreement the graduated licensing programs are an important contributor to the decline in fatal crashes," lead study author Ruth Shults, an injury prevention researcher at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, said in an to email to Reuters Health.

Graduated licenses may limit teens from diving at night as well as restrict how many teenage passengers can ride in a car with a teen driver.

Shults says that may be partly responsible for reducing the overall crash rate by 20 to 40 percent.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of drivers aged 16 to 19 involved in fatal crashes fell by 55 percent to 2,568 in 2013, down from 5,724 in 2004, supported by an increase in graduated licenses programs.

The numbers may also be down because some teenagers are waiting till they are 18 to get their driving license, said Eric Teoh, a senior statistician at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in Arlington, Virginia.

"An 18-year-old novice is probably more prepared maturity-wise than a 16-year-old novice," said Teoh, who wasn't involved in the study.

Many parents have changed what they look for in a car for their teenager. Newer models have better safety features - such as electronic stability to help keep the car in line if the driver loses control. That one feature alone may also be a contributing factor in fewer crashes.

Across 42 states included in the survey, the proportion of high school students who drive ranged from about 53 percent to about 90 percent, with the highest rates in the mid-western and mountain states, where population density is low. West coast states including California, Washington and Oregon were among eight excluded from the study.

In cities, fewer students drove, which may be related to family income, shorter travel distances and wider use of public transportation or alternatives such as walking or bicycling.

Nationwide in 2013, about three in four high school students 16 and older reported driving in the past month; the proportion was lower among black and Hispanic teens compared to white youth.

The economy may have also played a role in the reduction of teen drivers. Less dispensable money may have forced teens to look for alternative means such as public transportation, bicycles or walking.

"The economic downturn resulted in changes in the way people drive, with people taking fewer elective trips," said Raymond Bingham, a professor at the University of Michigan's Transportation Research Institute in Ann Arbor, who wasn't involved in the study.

Leisure trips, as opposed to driving to work or school, are associated with more crashes, Bingham said.

Whatever the reasons, it’s good to know that more of our teenage drivers are living to grow into adulthood and making it pass the turbulent adolescent years.

Source: Lisa Rapaport, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/04/08/us-health-teens-drivers-crashes-idUSKBN0MZ21020150408

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