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Teen driver safety tip: Parents think teens are safer drivers than they are; increased involvement is important to reversing that disconnect.

October 25, 2013

It is National Teen Driver Safety week, and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) wants to remind parents that they must stay engaged and involved long after their teens become licensed drivers.

In Wisconsin, teens are involved in fatal crashes twice as often as all other drivers. To reduce teen driver deaths and injuries, all states, including Wisconsin, have enacted Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) laws. These laws phase in driving privileges for teen drivers over a period of months. GDL laws save lives; this is seen in the data. In 2011, there were 60 percent fewer fatal crashes involving teen drivers than there were in 2000 when graduated licensing was enacted. However, parents overestimate how much teens obey two key provisions of GDL laws. Results from a recently conducted national survey illustrate this disconnect.

  • Nighttime driving—69 percent of parents believe their teen driver almost always follows restrictions while less than half (48 percent) of teens admit to almost always following this law.
  • Passenger restrictions—70 percent of parents believe their teen driver almost always obeys this life-saving statute while only 43 percent of teens state they almost always follow this restriction.

“Parents can reverse this with increased awareness and involvement,” notes Driver Qualification Chief Alison Lebwohl. "Statistics also show that parents who are authoritatively enforcing GDL rules and are highly involved have teens who are half as likely to crash, 71 percent less likely to drive while intoxicated and 30 percent less likely to use a cell phone while driving. Our advice is know the rules, enforce them and follow up on what your teens are doing behind the wheel. It makes a life-saving difference."



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