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Help teen drivers stay safe

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Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

This new year, parents of teen drivers should resolve to learn how to best protect teens behind the wheel. Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teen drivers and their passengers in the United States, but there are steps parents can take to reduce crash risks.

For example, parents can require their teen drivers be off the roads before 10 p.m., ban cell-phone use – handheld and hands-free – and never allow them to carry teen passengers.

Parents also should spend as much time as possible behind the wheel with their teens, even after full licensure.

These simple rules safeguard teens from elements proven to increase their already high-crash risk.

Since my son's death in a single-vehicle accident with a 16-year-old driver, I have been involved with the Pennsylvania Teen Safe Driving Coalition, initiated by the National Safety Council and The AllState Foundation.

I often hear about tragic crashes that could have been prevented through simple restrictions such as these. Studies show teens follow their parents' lead, so parents should set a good example and enforce safe driving habits. Teen lives depend on that parental guidance and involvement.

Our most vulnerable drivers deserve to navigate the most dangerous time of their lives safely. Parents should resolve to help them do just that.

Michelle Johnson


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