TOWSON, Md. — Parents who ensure that teens get ample practice in a wide variety of situations and transfer their safe driving wisdom to their novice drivers are more likely to help their teens develop the necessary skills to be safer drivers, according to a series of research studies from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. In step with AAA’s advice that parents should spend more time with their teen drivers so they can build as much experience as possible before driving solo, these new findings provide evidence as to how parents can most effectively work with their teens.
While current tools on the market focus on teen education, AAA used this insight in the development of a new drivers ed tool for parents— AAA’s StartSmart Online Parent Session. Grounded in principles of adult learning, the program helps parents be more effective driving coaches as their teens learn to drive.
“Teens continue to have the highest crash rate of any age group, so it’s critical that parents are involved and use techniques that are shown to work,” said Ragina C. Averella, manager of Public and Government Affairs at AAA Mid-Atlantic. “These recommended coaching techniques may seem rather obvious, yet research findings show that parents aren’t regularly practicing these techniques.
For example, one Foundation study that surveyed parents and teens during the process of learning to drive found:
· Nearly half of parents reported they wanted their teens to get “a lot of practice,” when asked about their plans for their teens’ driving. Yet, only about one in four parents mentioned practicing under a variety of situations or conditions, such as in bad weather, heavy traffic, or on unfamiliar roads.
· Nearly half of parents (47 percent) reported that there was still at least one condition in which they were not comfortable allowing their teen to drive unsupervised even after they passed their driving test and got their license to drive independently.
· Few parents in the study were observed sharing more complex driving tips—such as visual scanning or anticipating other drivers’ behaviors – with their teen drivers.
“Parents should make sure that their teens get ample driving practice, particularly during challenging conditions such as in heavy traffic and bad weather, and not just on routine trips on familiar roads,” said Averella, adding, “If they do, teens will be much more likely to have the skills and mindset needed to be safer drivers.”
With the roll out of the StartSmart Online Parent Session, AAA aims to give parents easy access to the most useful parenting practices for supervising and managing a teen driver. Through interactive elements and demonstrations, the two-hour program covers everything a parent needs to know, including a discussion about the situations and challenges they will most likely experience during supervised driving practice. The program is being offered at a 50 percent discount ($9.95) in support of Teen Driver Safety Week, October 20-26, and is available for purchase at www.teendriving.aaa.com.
To encourage parents to share their wisdom with younger drivers, AAA is launching a national contest soliciting the best driving advice that parents wish to impart on teen drivers, along with a chance to challenge their own driving smarts by taking the “Are You Smarter Than Your Teen Driver?” quiz. Parents can submit entries at Contest.TeenDriving.AAA.com from October 21 through December 11 and will be eligible to win prizes including an iPad® mini and VISA® gift cards.