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Autoweek 2006 Teen Driving

Autoweek 2006 Teen Driving

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Published by AutoweekUSA
Autoweek 2006 Teen Driving issue
Autoweek 2006 Teen Driving issue

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Published by: AutoweekUSA on Feb 20, 2013
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$3.99 U.S.SEPTEMBER4, 2006 autoweek.com
Parents: It’s your job. Some practical advice, p
age 21
Why the old-school method just isn’t enough,
page 22
Important things toknow if ADHD is part of the equation,
page 23
Give your kid the edge before that chance slips away,
page 26
The right car is outthere for your teen,
page 28
The cost of insuring your teen, and how to go about getting a discount,
page 29
The manufacturers getin on training future customers,
page 30
Parenting 007: Sometimes a little underhanded maneuvering is required, p
age 32
Teenage Driving
Since the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, about 2600 American troopshave been killed in combat and war-related incidents. The count iswell-known and updated regularly in news reports. Did you knowduring the same 41-month period, more than 22,000 teenagers, ages15 to 19, died in traffic accidents on U.S. roads?
By Kevin A. Wilson
HINK ABOUT THOSEdeaths on the roads for amoment,” says Phil Berardelli,author of
Safe Young Drivers
(and an articleon page 21 of this magazine). “A highwayfatality is as violent, bloody and gruesomeas anything in warfare. It causes familymembers to grieve just as deeply as those ofcombat casualties; the lives cut short arejust as tragically young, or younger.”Berardelli uses the statistical compari-son when called upon to speak in public onthe subject. It’s not an exact comparison—there are far more teen drivers than thereare soldiers deployed in Iraq. But the dismalfact is America watches many more youngpeople die in traffic accidents than it doesin military service, and yet there’s very lit-tle political and public activity related tostemming these deaths.“We just accept the fact that somewherebetween 5000 and 6000 kids will die onour roads this year and another 300,000will be seriously injured. And it’s just notacceptable,” says Ron Langford, who creat-ed the MasterDrive driver-education pro-gram in Colorado after the death of his own16-year-old daughter in a traffic accident.Fortunately, Langford is not the only onethinking this way. The time is ripe for carenthusiasts—who have long bemoaned thestate of driver education in America—tocontribute to an evolving effort to addressthe problem. The past decade has seen ris-ing interest in how we teach teens to driveand license them to do so. On one hand,states—with the encouragement of AAA,the insurance industry and the federal gov-ernment—have implemented GraduatedDriver Licensing programs. Generallyspeaking, GDL programs demand morehours of on-the-road training with a parentor guardian in the car during an extendedlearner’s permit period. GDLs then putrestrictions on the hours during whichnewly licensed drivers can be on the roadand how many teen passengers they canhave with them and so on.“Graduated licensing works,” assertsAnn Fleming, senior vp for communica-tions at the Insurance Institute forHighway Safety. Indeed, teen fatality ratestypically fall 20 percent to 25 percent inthe period following a state’s enactment ofGDL. “In state after state the fatality rateshave decreased,” Fleming said. “Because[GDL] introduces teens to driving over anextended period, and it protects them fromthe high-risk situations until they havemore experience—late night, numbers ofpassengers. We have seen a significant low-ering of crash risk.”Right now 44 states andthe District of Columbiahave GDL laws—and byAAA’s count, they all haveat least some elements ofthe recommended arrayof restrictions on age, dri-ving experience, curfewsand other limitations. Butnot one has an “optimal”program as defined byNHTSA, AAA and IIHS,the leading advocates forsuch programs (to see howyour state measures up,check out www.nhtsa.gov).Critics, however, noteGDL lowers fatalities bydecreasing the numbers ofteens on the road, not nec-essarily by improving theirability as drivers.“Let’s give IIHS and itscampaign for GDL creditfor slowing down the pushto license 16-year-olds,”says David Thompson ofthe Florida-headquarteredNew Driver Car ControlClinic, which offers pro-grams in 14 states. “Butwhat does that really do? Itputs a barrier in the way”—a financial or regulatorywall to leap over—and thatcuts the numbers of driversin the youngest age cohort.“That’s not a small accom-plishment,” says Berardelli.“Kids are alive who wouldhave been dead doing it theold way. But for it to workbest, it really needs parentsto step up.”Many parents seem torecognize GDL isn’t thebe-all and end-all (thosefatality rates are still too high), which iswhy the rise of GDL programs has alsoseen a parallel proliferation of programsthat aim to expose teens to advanced dri-ving skills such as emergency lane-changemaneuvers, skid recovery and how to makebest use of antilock brakes, traction controland other technologies. Talk to those lead-ing these programs and you find a lot ofpassion and a lot of varied approaches tohow to teach these skills, though. Americais recognizing a problem, and a lot of peo-ple are trying to do something about it,but we haven’t agreedon the same answer.“This is an excitingtime in driver educationcircles,” asserts BillVan Tassel, manager ofdriver training operationsfor the national AAA.“There’s a lot of focuson the subject. One goodquestion is whether thegoal should be to makeus into good drivingcitizens for life, or is thegoal to keep them safefor that first six monthsor 1000 miles?”Why not both? “Youprobably want both,”says Van Tassel, “but itmakes a difference inhow you set priorities.”We’ve been arguingpriorities for a longtime now. Thompson,Langford and many oth-ers who teach advancedskills maintain the IIHS’sformer leader, BrianO’Neill, was such astaunch opponent ofdriver education—sayingthat skills-training pro-grams
did not
work toimprove teen safety andciting numerous studiesto support his assertion—that he almost single-handedly set progressback a decade or more.Counters the IIHS’sFleming: “We’re notanti-driver education; itmay be a good thing toteach these skills. It justshouldn’t be confusedwith making teens safer.Generally speaking, it’snot an issue of skills; the risk has to dowith attitudes. You can teach them skidcontrol all day and it won’t affect theteenager’s sense of... invulnerability.”A recent study by Children’s Hospitalof Philadelphia (CHoP), sponsored by StateFarm Insurance, concluded that the firstsix-month period of licensure is the mostdangerous time for any driver, and thecrash risk remains twice as high as thatfor adult drivers until age 25. This is also,perhaps not coincidentally, the age atwhich scientists now say a human brain
We contacted numerousadvanced driving-skills programsfor teens in the course ofpreparing these articles. Below isa list of websites where parentscan find out more about theprograms available—some arenational touring programs, othersare more regional in nature.This list does not purport to becomprehensive, and inclusionshould not be construed as anendorsement by this magazine,but parents interested in findingprograms for their own teenscould get started here.
(click the “motorsports and driver’s schools” button on thehome page)
For more in-depth studies ofteen driver-education issues, seethe following websites. Mosthave search functions, andentering the terms teen, teendriver or driver education will turnup a wealth of information.www.nhtsa.gov
For a complete list of websitesand reference materials visit
Getting startedwith your teen

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