Many parents would agree that one of their most fearful days in child rearing is watching their teenager pull out of the driveway and drive away – alone. With good reason: the Department of Motor Vehicles states crashes are the leading cause of death for 14 to18 year olds in the U.S.

October 18 to 24 marks this year’s National Teen Driver Safety Week. According to Automobile Association of America (AAA) teens have the highest crash rate of any group in the United States. About 963,000 drivers aged 16 to19 were involved in police-reported crashes in 2013, resulting in 383,000 injuries and 2,865 deaths.

Many of these crashes, however, are preventable because often we know why these accidents are occurring. Poor choices like talking on a cell phone, not wearing a seatbelt, driving too fast, too many people into the car, drinking, driving late at night are all factors in why teenagers are so prone to car accidents.  Parents can only hope that their children are making good decisions behind the wheel.

So what can parents do? AAA’s dedicated website Keys2Drive is a great resource for preparing your teen (and the parents!) to drive and includes a downloadable parent/teen driver contract. On Parents Central they recommend “5 to Drive” which stands for No Cell Phones, No Extra Passengers, No Speeding, No Alcohol, and Always Buckle-up.

Another place with good teen driver information is likely your auto insurance company’s website. Most insurance companies dedicate a large section to teen driving safety.

Staying educated and involved with your children is truly the first step. If your teen is comfortable talking to you or if you set a good driving example, part of the battle will already be won!

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