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Column: Top tips to keep teens safe behind the wheel

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In recognition of National Teen Driver Safety Week (Oct. 21-27, 2018), Safe Kids Wausau Area urges teens and their families to discuss smart strategies for staying safe behind the wheel. Motor vehicle crashes remain the leading cause of death for American teens and are most often the result of inexperienced teen drivers taking risks, like not buckling up, texting, driving with teen passengers, speeding, driving under the influence or driving in the dark.

“Every year more than 2,000 teen drivers are involved in fatal motor vehicle crashes, most of which are caused by inexperience on the road,” said Emily Loertscher, Safe Kids Wausau Area. “Time and again we hear stories about teens whose inexperience, when combined with unnecessary risk-taking – like not wearing a seat belt- results in tragedy. Teen Driver Safety Week should serve as an important reminder to parents to talk to their teens about the necessity of buckling up and keeping the phone down on every ride, and to make sure you are following the rules, too.”

Safe Kids Wausau Area recommends the following driving safety tips for teen drivers:

  • Talk to your teens about how to be safe while driving. Remind teens to follow traffic signals and laws, make eye contact with pedestrians, and enter and exit driveways and alleys slowly and carefully.
  • Make a formal agreement with your teen and enforce it. A 2016 research report by Safe Kids Worldwide showed that formal parent-teen agreements on driving restrictions help reduce risky driving, traffic violations and crashes.
  • Let your actions speak as loud as your words. Kids are always watching, even when you think they’re not. So set a good example when kids and teens are in the car. If you buckle up, they are more likely to buckle up and if you speed, they will speed.
  • Ensure your new teen driver gets at least 50 hours of experience under a variety of driving conditions. Having more experience behind the wheel helps new drivers manage driving in the dark and driving with other teen passengers in the car, situations that can increase the likelihood of crashes for young drivers.
  • Take action against distraction. Teach teen drivers to put cellphones and other distractions in the back seat or out of sight until their final destination.
  • Be alert around neighborhoods and schools. When driving, be especially alert in residential neighborhoods and school zones and be on the lookout for bikers, walkers or runners who may be distracted or may step into the street unexpectedly.
  • Watch out for pedestrians. Give pedestrians the right of way and look both ways when making a turn to help spot any bikers, walkers or runners who may not be immediately visible.

In further recognition of National Teen Driver Safety Week, Safe Kids Worldwide released the results of their Teen Video Challenge. Kaylyn Barbour, a teen from Oklahoma, created the award-winning video in which she shares her story of how one choice to not wear her seat belt changed her life completely. The tragic experience has compelled Kaylyn to speak out to teens about the risks of unsafe driving behaviors.

Watch Kaylyn’s Story

For more safety tips, visithttps://www.safekids.org/safetytips

Source: Aspirus and Safe Kids Worldwide

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