Stressing safety for teens behind the wheel

Content provided courtesy of USAA.

Sweet 16. Most teenagers can’t wait to reach that birthday for one reason: a driver’s license.

But with that milestone comes a sobering statistic: Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Summer is an especially dangerous time of year for teenage drivers. Typically, more teens are behind the wheel, taking unfamiliar routes, carrying friends and staying out later. Those factors, combined with the usual risks of driving, make the months between Memorial Day and Labor Day the most deadly for teen drivers, according to the National Safety Council.

Before you hand over the keys, here are some recommendations to help your new driver get to and from their destination safely:

1. Set an example. Have every passenger buckle up. Put your cellphone away, even at red lights. Drive the speed limit, and try to minimize distractions.

2. Find a safe vehicle. Check the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s list of the safest used cars for teens at iihs.org. Vehicles — like Toyota Prius, Kia Sorento and Chevrolet Malibu — earn spots by doing well in crash rating tests.

3. Monitor and coach. Use USAA’s Automatic License+™, a free program designed to help teens build safe skills behind the wheel. The program uses a free adapter to collect driving data, which can be viewed on a smartphone app so you can encourage good driving habits and discuss areas that need improvement. It’s accessible at usaa.com/coachingyoungdrivers.

4. Talk about texting. Ask your teen to read and sign the It Can Wait texting pledge, at itcanwait.usaa.com. “It’s a great way for parents and teens to start the conversation about safe driving,” says Shayna Dickson, a lead programs underwriter for USAA.

5. Practice a lot. Ride with your teen often, and consider a defensive driving course, which may qualify you for insurance discounts.

Source: Legion News

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