Unless you have a teenager learning how to drive, you may not have thought about the link between the COVID-19 pandemic and teen driving. It’s been a challenging year of school closures, canceled activities, and uncertainty surrounding student learning, including driver training and testing schedules affected by the pandemic.
“Because of the closures, there was a lot of time to practice driving and become really comfortable on the road, but it’s great that now we can finally do behind-the-wheel, get tested and get our license,” says Natalie Evans, a 16-year-old AAA Member from Haymarket, Virginia.
Families, educators, and driving schools are all working to help teens safely get ready for a lifetime of responsible driving.
“The last decade of crash data shows that teens continue to be overrepresented in crashes, and their inexperience places them at a higher risk [of a crash],” says Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “Our data analysis has found that 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.”
To increase the driving safety of teens, AAA encourages parents to take the following actions:
- Talk with teens early and often about abstaining from dangerous behavior behind the wheel such as speeding, driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs, and distracted driving.
- Teach by example, and minimize risky behavior, especially the all-too-common distracted driving when behind the wheel.
- Establish a parent-teen driving agreement that sets family rules for teen drivers.
- Have your teen acquire at least 50 hours of supervised practice driving.
To support parents in conducting practice driving sessions, AAA is providing a free four-page guide to help parents coach their teens on how to drive safely. The Coaching Your New Driver—An In-Car Guide for Parents offers behind-the-wheel lesson plans, including a variety of do’s and don’ts to make the learning experience as helpful as possible. For parents, the guide can be beneficial as they coach their teens on a variety of topics building on their formal behind-the-wheel training. The StartSmart Online Parent Session also provides a variety of tools and resources for parents and teens. Visit TeenDriving.AAA.com for more information.
Please take advantage of this support from AAA as we work together to improve the safety of young drivers while they’re behind the wheel.“All of us new drivers benefit from extra practice time on the road because we know it ensures we will be safer drivers for a long time to come,” says Evans, who got her Virginia driver’s license this year.