BOISE – It’s National Teen Driver Safety Week, and AAA is reminding parents of the critical role they play in helping their teens develop good driving habits.

AAA says that new teen drivers ages 16-17 years old are three times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than older drivers.  And nearly two-thirds of the people killed in those crashes are someone other than the teen driver – passengers, pedestrians, and occupants of other vehicles.

“Earning driving privileges is an exciting rite of passage for many teens, but when it’s time to talk about safety, tensions may run a little high,” says AAA Idaho public affairs director Matthew Conde.  “It’s a good idea to start the conversation by finding common ground.  No one wants to pay higher insurance premiums, have their car in the shop, or be the cause of a tragedy.  There are ways to come to an understanding that your role as a parent is to provide ongoing feedback.”

In a study performed by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, about 72 percent of teen drivers admitted to engaging in at least one risky behavior in the previous 30 days:

  • Driving 10 mph over the speed limit on a residential street (47%)
  • Driving 15 mph over the speed limit on a freeway (40%)
  • Texting while driving (35%)
  • Red-light running (32%)
  • Aggressive driving, including weaving in and out of traffic or tailgating (31%)
  • Drowsy driving (25%)
  • Driving without a seatbelt (17%)

All teens are too young to legally buy, possess, or consume alcohol, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 16% of teen drivers involved in fatal crashes had alcohol in their system.  Any impairing substance puts teens, their friends, and other road users at risk.

“Before handing your teen the keys, you have the right to set some terms and conditions,” Conde said.  “Put clear expectations in writing, as well as the consequences for breaking the agreement.  And please remember that the rules you put in place won’t be worth the paper they’re written on if you aren’t prepared to follow through and model safe driving yourself.”