By AAA of Western and Central New York
National Teen Driver Safety Week is underway, running from Oct. 17-24. Now is the time for parents to talk with teen drivers about the importance of safety behind the wheel. Recent AAA research shows that more than 60% of teens got their driver’s license before the age of 18. Young drivers need training to understand the rules of the road.
“It is imperative that all new drivers practice driving with a skilled coach through a variety of routes and in different weather conditions before heading out on their own,” said Mike Formanowicz, AAA driver training manager. “Novice drivers shouldn’t let the first time that they drive in the rain or on the highway be at a time when they’re alone.”
Amid the pandemic, AAA instructors began leading the required five-hour prelicensing class virtually, sharing images and videos, and even answering questions from students, which is very popular with students. AAA continues to offer in-car instruction with social distancing and masks. New registrations are being accepted for virtual classes; students simply register at www.AAA.com/DriverTraining. AAA members get discounts on courses and training.
Past research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that for every mile driven, new teen drivers ages 16-17 years old are three times as likely as adults to be involved in a deadly crash. All states have in place graduated driver licensing (GDL) systems for teen drivers ages 16 and 17 to help them gradually learn the rules of the road under less risky conditions. The programs require minimum holding periods and practice requirements for teens with learner’s permits, followed by restricted licenses that limit driving at night or with peer passengers.
By setting parameters, new drivers can greatly minimize their risk of a crash. AAA recommends that, regardless of their age when first learning to drive, new drivers should remember to “R.E.A.D the road”:
R = Right speed, for right now: Always mind the speed limit and reduce speed when driving in adverse weather.
E = Eyes up, brain on: Always scan the road to anticipate dangers ahead. Eliminate distractions and keep your mind focused on the task of driving.
A = Anticipate their next move: Be aware of other drivers on the road. Anticipate their next move and always have a plan to respond.
D = Doughnut of space around your vehicle: Keep large amounts of space to the front and sides of the vehicle.
TeenDriving.AAA.com has a variety of tools to help prepare parents and teach new drivers the rules of the road. The online AAA StartSmart program also offers great resources for parents on how to become effective in-car coaches as well as advice on how to manage their teen’s overall driving privileges. Novice drivers preparing for the responsibility of driving should enroll in a driver education program that teaches how to avoid driver distraction and other safety skills.
Established in 1947 by AAA, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a not-for-profit, publicly funded, 501(c)(3) charitable research and educational organization. The AAA Foundation’s mission is to prevent traffic deaths and injuries by conducting research into their causes and by educating the public about strategies to prevent crashes and reduce injuries when they do occur. This research is used to develop educational materials for drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists and other road users. Visit www.AAAFoundation.org.
As upstate New York’s largest member services organization, AAA Western and Central New York provides more than 887,000 members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1900, AAA has been a leading advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. Visit AAA at www.AAA.com.