DAYTON — Over the past five years, teen drivers were involved in nearly 14,000 fatal crashes and about a third of them – more than 4,000 – involved speeding.
This comes as no surprise to teen driving instructors who—in a new AAA survey—identify speeding as one of the top three mistakes the young drivers make when learning to drive and, the instructors say, that in many cases, parents are setting a dangerous example.
As we approach National Teen Driver Safety Week (Oct. 16-22), AAA is reminding parents that they play an important role in preventing deadly mistakes behind the wheel.
“Nearly two-thirds of people injured or killed in a crash involving a teen driver are people other than the teen,” said Pat Brown, AAA Driving School Instructor. “Involved parents really can help save lives.”
In the survey, Skills of Novice Teen Drivers, 142 driving instructors revealed the top three mistakes the teens make when learning to drive:
• Speeding: Traveling over posted speed limits or too fast for road conditions.
• Distraction: Interacting with a cell phone, talking with passengers or looking at other objects in the vehicle. (Here’s a dramatic video of distracted teens crashing)
• Poor Visual Scanning: Driving with tunnel vision and not properly scanning the road for risks or hazards.
A recent survey from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety supports the driving instructors’ observations about parents setting dangerous examples.
The survey found that drivers aged 35-55 admit to dangerous behaviors when behind the wheel.
• 77 percent of drivers aged 35-55 reported talking on a cell phone while driving, compared to 68 percent of teen drivers.
• A similar proportion of teens and drivers aged 35-55 reported driving 15 mph over the speed limit on a freeway (45 percent and 46 percent, respectively).
“‘Do as I say, not as I do’ just won’t do when it comes to driving,” said Brown. “Parents must set a safe example at every turn.”
Past research shows that teens with parents who impose stricter driving limits reported fewer crashes and traffic violations.
AAA recommends parents stay actively involved in coaching their teens through the learning-to-drive process by:
• Having conversations early and regularly about the dangers of speeding and distraction.
• Taking the time to practice driving with their teens in varying conditions.
• Adopting and enforcing a parent-teen driving agreement that sets family rules for the road.
• Leading by example and minimizing distractions and speeding when they are driving.
AAA also recommends that teens preparing for the responsibility of driving should enroll in a driver education program that teaches how to avoid driver distraction and other safety skills.
Resources to help parents choose a class and coach their teen through the learning-to drive process can be found on AAA’s award-winning website TeenDriving.AAA.com.