Parents encouraged to practice what they preach as their teens learn to drive

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Teen drivers often mirror what their parents do behind the wheel so to keep your kids safe, experts first say to examine your own behaviors

(WKBN) – This week is National Teen Driver Safety Week — a time meant to focus on saving the lives of new drivers. It’s also a time to make sure parents are talking with their kids about the potential dangers of the road.

Car crashes are one of the leading causes of death among teens. More than 3,200 teens were involved in deadly crashes in 2017.

AAA is recognizing this week in the hopes that parents will be able to talk to their kids about the dangers of the road.

Recent AAA research has found for every mile driven, new teen drivers ages 16 to 17 years old are three times more likely to be involved in a deadly crash compared to adults. This is largely due to their inexperience and likelihood of engaging in risky behaviors.

“Teen Driver Awareness Week brings to the table the opportunity to do that. Just a reminder to say, ‘What are we doing to keep junior safe?’ Because the number-one threat to their safety, oftentimes, is going to be the car,” said Jim Garrity, with AAA.

There are some alarming numbers attached with this week. AAA did a survey for kids ages 16 to 18 and found 35% text while driving, 17% have driven without a seat belt and 47% admitted to speeding over the past 30 days.

Some of these things can be prevented by having a conversation with your kids. Don’t be afraid to start the uncomfortable conversation with them about distracted and impaired driving. This could save their lives at the end of the day.

AAA experts say a lot of teen drivers will mirror what their parents do behind the wheel. For example, if mom and dad are texting while driving, their new teen driver will think it’s OK to do that, too.

Garrity says to lead by example to make sure you’re doing what you preach to minimize risky behavior.

“Parents, you might want to take a moment and actually examine how are your driving behaviors because just like everything in life, your kids are watching and they’re going to be emulating what you do. So if you’re texting behind the wheel, they’re going to think, ‘Well, if it’s OK they text behind the wheel, it’s OK if I do.'”

When your teen is learning how to drive, establish your ground rules early.

AAA says during the permit or new license phase, if you’re not comfortable with them behind the wheel on a public road, practice somewhere else or make sure they’re still supervised.

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