Teen Driver Safety Week Marks Opportune Time for Parents to Practice Driving Scenarios with their Teen


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DEARBORN, MI--Oct. 21, 2013: As Teen Driver Safety Week kicks off (October 20-26, 2013), AAA Michigan reminds parents of the critical role they play to ensure their teen receives supervised driving practice that prepares them for all driving challenges. AAA recommends parents practice these five challenging driving scenarios with their teen during the learning-to-drive process. By becoming more involved in their teens' driver education, parents will help their teens to build confidence and experience through these challenging driving situations before their teen hits the road solo.

"While teens who have participated in a quality Driver Education program are exposed to difficult driving conditions, parental guidance is essential for the long-term success of any new driver," said Sandra Maxwell, director of driver education programs for AAA. "Because parents have the unique opportunity to sit in the passenger seat and coach their teen, they have the ability to ensure lifelong safe driving habits at the critical learning-to-drive stage."

Driving Challenges:

1. Winter or inclement driving – Rain, ice and snow can make for dangerous driving conditions for even the most experienced drivers. While many parents are hesitant about their teen driving at all in these conditions, it's critical for teens to practice driving in these less-than-ideal road conditions while parents can coach them.

Slow driving and an increased (6-7 second) following distance are critical when roads are slick or icy, look further ahead in traffic so there's more time to react. When braking on icy roads, apply constant, firm pressure with anti-lock brakes; if the car starts to swerve, keep your hands on the wheel, slowly let off the gas pedal and look and steer in the direction you want to go. Always make sure your teen's car has an emergency kit.

2. Avoiding a deer or animal – Each year many drivers are killed or injured in crashes involving animals. While animal crashes occur year-round, October and November are dangerous months for these types of crashes, so the time is now to properly prepare your teen driver.

Most injuries in vehicle-animal crashes are not caused by hitting the animal but from leaving the roadway. So if your teen sees animal: slow down, keep both hands on the wheel, and don't swerve. Some animals, like deer, travel in numbers so if you see one, watch for others. Animals may double back so even if it appears they have passed, stay alert.

3. Driving on rural roads – Driving on rural roads presents challenges to many drivers, including hairpin turns, limited sight distance and two-lane highways that aren't well lit. Make sure teens get plenty of time on these roads while you can assist with coaching them.

Help them understand how to slow down and gradually pull back onto the pavement should their right wheels drop off the roadway onto the shoulder. Over correcting is a major cause of crashes. Explain that, despite what the speed limit is, hills and curves often limit visibility. These and darkness or weather conditions often dictate traveling at slower speeds.

4. Driving with passengers – A recent study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that teen drivers are much more likely to be killed in a crash when there are passengers under the age of 21 in the car. Crash risk goes up by 44% for just one passenger.

Parents should use AAA's Parent-Teen Driving Agreement to limit the number of passengers their teen can have during their first years behind the wheel, and make sure they understand that the importance of staying focused on the road instead of socializing with passengers..

5. Driving with other modes of transportation – Bicycles, trucks and motorcycles all provide different challenges. Practice driving around each of these modes to help your teen understand how to share the road.

Bicycles – Slow down and give bicyclists at least three feet of space from the car. Many cities also have bike paths or bike lanes; teens should be on high alert for bicyclists in these areas as they can be hard to see, especially at intersections. Motorcycles – Like bikes, motorcycles can be hard to see. It's important that teens give motorcycles increased space (3-4 second following distance) and be watchful when changing lanes – motorcycles can easily be lost in a driver's blind spot. Trucks - Parents should also make sure that their teens recognize the limited stopping abilities and blind spots of semis. Trucks need significantly more time and distance to stop than a car, especially at highway speeds. If you cannot see the truck's mirrors, the driver cannot see you.

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