We've said this before and we'll say it again since it's that time of year when graduating seniors start spreading their wings: Parents need to talk to their teenagers about the rules of the road and the rules of having their driver's licenses. Discounting speeding and reckless driving, today there are more and more distractions, from sipping a soda to talking to texting on cell phones, increasing chances for tragedy.
A recent press release from the state superintendent of public instruction reiterates what most of us know already: "Teen driver crashes are the leading cause of death for young people. The overwhelming majority of these crashes are caused by inexperience or distractions, not 'thrill-seeking' or deliberate risk-taking. In a recent National Young Driver Survey, 20 percent of eleventh grade drivers reported at least one crash over the past year, while nearly 3 percent experienced two or more crashes."
The release went on to note "drivers between 15 and 20 years old are more often involved in alcohol-related crashes than any other age group."
On the street outside our office, just in the past few weeks, we've seen two accidents involving teenage drivers (which luckily did not involve any serious injuries). That's not to say they were at fault in both, but in each one they had other teens in the car with them, which with a few exceptions is generally against California law.
Most of us old enough to have teenagers remember our days of be-bopping around town after school, at night and on the weekends with our pals. Singing, eating, honking at friends, driving around and around the same block to get a boyfriend's or girlfriend's attention — just being kids.
But the laws have changed. Wearing seat belts is not an option.
The DMV website says, "During the first 12 months, a teen cannot drive between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. and cannot transport passengers under age 20, unless accompanied by a parent or guardian, a licensed driver 25 years of age or older, or a licensed or certified driving instructor."
Take the time to review the DMV site's Parent-Teen Driving Guide with your teenager and remember the rules yourself. Consider getting them onboard with a Parent-Teen Driving Contract which you can find at www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/dl603/teen_htm/contract.htm.
In the end, you're the responsible party.