Parents: Teens not prepared to drive

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Parents don't prepare their teens to drive as well as they did a decade ago. According to a AAA survey of 142 driving instructors across America, 65% said the decline in quality parental involvement has added to the challenges facing young drivers. They also reported that parents often set a bad example through their own behaviors.

"With all the other challenges teens face learning to drive, it is critical for parents to re-engage in the process," said Stephanie Milani, Tennessee Public Affairs Director, AAA - The Auto Club Group. "Teens can't succeed safely on the road unless those closest to them make proper training a priority and set a good example behind the wheel."

In the survey, Skills of Novice Teen Drivers, driving instructors also revealed the top three mistakes teens make when learning to drive:

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  • 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.
  • Poor Visual Scanning - Driving with tunnel vision and not properly scanning the road for risks or hazards.

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 often about the dangers of speeding and distraction
  • Taking the time to practice driving with their teens in varying conditions
  • Adopting a Parent-Teen Driving Agreement that takes the learning to drive process in stages and sets family rules for the road
  • Setting a good example by minimizing distractions and speeding when 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.

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