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Here’s a not-so-fun fact for parents of teen drivers to consider before they send their sons and daughters out on the roadway: Half of all teens will be involved in a car wreck before graduating from high school. But there is good news. There are a number of things we can do as parents to help arm our young drivers with information and preparation that goes a long way to keeping them safer behind the wheel.

Many of these things you may already know. Alcohol and speeding greatly increase your chances of being in a collision, but many of us know that. Maybe a little more surprising, extra passengers in the vehicle can also cause distractions that increase your chance of being involved in an incident. But the single biggest distraction for teen drivers, and the issue that causes more teens to be involved in serious accidents are cell phones.

Here are a few of the statistics relating to teen drivers and their use of phones:

-A third of teens self-report texting or emailing while driving (in the prior month), a proven deadly distraction for all drivers and especially teen drivers.

-Distraction was a key factor in 58 percent of crashes involving drivers ages 16 to 19, according to an analysis of video footage of 1,691 moderate-to-severe crashes 6 seconds before they occurred.

-Distracted driving is a factor in 14 percent of police-reported crashes involving teen drivers.

-The overwhelming majority (75 percent) of serious teen driver crashes are due to "critical errors," with the three common errors accounting for nearly half of these crashes:

-Lack of scanning the road ahead for hazards and oncoming traffic
-Speeding, or driving faster than road conditions permit
-Distractions within their own vehicle.

There’s beginning to be a theme here. Cell phones are a major distraction, and as parents, we need hard and fast rules for the road before we trust our kids to venture out on the roadways–for their safety, and everyone else’s. So here are some rules to consider with your teen:

  1. Cell phone is OFF any time they’re behind the wheel. Off. Period. No exceptions. If they need to talk, they have to pull of the road and turn it on.

  2. Absolutely no texting. No reading. No typing. No sending. If you’re texting, you have to think about it, and if you’re thinking about texting, you’re not thinking about driving.

  3. Put it away. Not only should your teen (and all of us, for that matter) turn their phone off, they should hide it from themselves. If your phone is out of sight, it’s out of mind, and there’s less temptation to look at it, even if it’s only for a second.

So there are a few facts and tips that can help you provide your teen driver with all the necessary information to make them safer on the road. Driving is an exciting and complicated process that all teens have to go through, and the less distractions they have, the safer they’ll be. Of course, if they do happen to bump another car on the road when they’re still learning the ropes, come see us. We’ll get you and your driver back to the rhythm of your lives in no time.