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New Report Helps States Better Engage Parents of Teen Drivers

teen driver (select to view enlarged photo)

With deaths on the rise, parent involvement is key to keep teens safe

WASHINGTON--May 2, 2013: What's an effective tool for reducing teen crash risk? Parents. Moms and dads play a critical role in helping teens survive their most dangerous driving years. This theme is explored in a new report released today by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), Promoting Parent Involvement in Teen Driving: An In-Depth Look at the Importance and the Initiatives. The report was developed with a grant from State Farm.

The publication, the third in a series on teen driving developed for state highway safety offices and teen safe driving advocates discusses what parents need to know about the risk factors for their novice drivers. The report highlights the ways parents can support graduated driver licensing (GDL) laws at home by working closely with their teen as they develop driving skills and gradually increasing privileges. It also explores the critical role parents play in shaping their teens' driving behavior and the challenges of engaging parents who are not only busy, but also likely to view their teens as good, safe drivers.

"Most parents would agree that it's their responsibility to protect their children," said GHSA Executive Director Barbara Harsha, who oversaw the development of this latest report. "But safety sometimes takes a backseat when it comes to their teens obtaining a driver license. This latest publication focuses on helping states understand what parents need to know, from recognizing the risks for their teens to leveraging tools such as a parent-teen driving compact."

The report also examines current best practices in reaching parents and identifies what elements are essential for states wanting to build a good parent program. "There's an abundance of teen driving resources available to help parents, but not all are created equal," noted Harsha. She adds, "The publication offers a checklist with which to evaluate programs and is an essential tool for all states."

"State Farm knows that teens view their parents as their most important role model when it comes to safe driving," said Kellie Clapper, Assistant Vice President of Public Affairs at State Farm. "That's why State Farm is so committed to providing families the tools they need to prepare new drivers for a safe road ahead. Because parents often look to their state agencies for support and information, this report will be a valuable resource."

The report was written by Pam Fischer, a transportation safety consultant and former New Jersey State Highway Safety Office Director who is also the parent of a teen driver. She also previously chaired the New Jersey Teen Driving Commission. Additionally, an expert panel was convened to share their insights on current research and practices, as well as parent engagement programs that are showing or are expected to show promising results.

Expert panel members included: Joseph Cristalli, Connecticut Highway Safety Office; Vicki Harper, State Farm; Suzanne Hill, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia; Timothy Hollister, Shipman & Goodwin/parent advocate; Nina Jo Saint, Texas Education Service Center; John Saunders, Virginia Highway Safety Services; Jean Thatcher Shope, University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute and Jim Wright, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.