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October 15, 2012

Young drivers can learn from parents

NORMAN — Parents are the key to teen driver safety. It just makes sense — the more involved parents are in their teens’ driving life, the safer teens will be on the road.

In recognition of Teen Driver Safety Week, which began Oct. 14, AAA urges parents to:

n Be role models. Our children pick up more from how we act than we think.

Kids typically mimic the driving behaviors of their parents.

n Set rules. Oklahoma has a pretty good teen Graduated Driver Licensing

(GDL) law. It sets limits on where novice drivers can drive, at what hours and with how many passengers. But conscientious parents will take these rules one step further by imposing guidelines on things like cell phone use while driving, texting, use of seat belts, highway driving and alcohol.

n Stay involved. Communication between teen and parent is vital. Ask your kids where they’re going, who they’ll be with, what roads they’ll be on and when they’ll be back. Then when they return, talk about their driving experiences — how was it? Any problems? Did you encounter any unusual driving scenarios? You know what to ask and you know you are the answer.

With high school driver’s education now almost a thing of the past, who is teaching your teen how to drive? Are they gathering these life skills from TV car commercials? Video games? Their friends?

There’s a reason teen drivers pay the most of any age group for car insurance — they have the most wrecks. Car crashes are still the leading cause of death for teens.

Parents can step up and do more to reduce their teen’s risk on the road. A good free resource is TeenDriving.AAA.com. It has a downloadable parent-teen driving agreement, sample driving test questions, specifics on Oklahoma’s GDL law and useful advice for teens and parents.

Chuck Mai is vice president of public affairs for AAA Oklahoma. He can be reached at 753-8040 or at chuck.mai@aaaok.org.

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