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Parents Are the Key to Keeping Teens Safe on the Road

This fact may surprise you: Car crashes are the #1 killer of teens, taking about 3,000 young lives every year. That's 8 teen deaths each day that can be prevented. To help avoid these deadly crashes, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is helping parents to play a key role in keeping their teens safe on the road. Through its "Parents Are the Key" campaign, CDC offers parents safe teen driving tools—including flyers, fact sheets, e-cards, and a parent-teen driver agreement—for free at

Leading experts agree that parents who get involved with their teens' driving can help prevent a tragic crash. To do so is simple. First, extend your teen's supervised driving period. Help your teen develop the experience he or she needs by providing as many supervised practice driving hours as possible. Include at least 30 to 50 hours of practice over at least six months. Make sure to practice on a variety of road conditions and at different times of day.

Then, set the rules of the road. While practicing driving will empower your teen, your rules will provide much needed limitations to keep him or her safe. Start with these three rules and build from there: 1) Make sure your teen always wears a seat belt. 2) Limit your teen's nighttime driving. 3) Restrict the number of passengers your teen can have in the car.

Finally, enforce your rules of the road with a parent-teen agreement. Work with your teen to draft and sign the agreement. Be sure to include clearly written rules and consequences for breaking the rules.

"All beginner drivers, even straight-A students and 'good kids', are likelier than experienced drivers to be involved in a fatal crash—it's a fact," said Dr. Grant Baldwin, director of the Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention within CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

The following factors also increase the odds of a young driver being in a deadly crash: driving while distracted, driving drowsy, driving recklessly, and drinking alcohol.

"These injuries and deaths can be prevented. We're encouraging parents to talk with their teen about the most dangerous driving situations and how to avoid them," said Dr. Baldwin. "Remind your teen that driving is a privilege and that your rules of the road need to be followed."

CDC also recommends that parents understand and support their state's specific graduated driver licensing (GDL) laws, which are proven to reduce teen crashes and deaths. GDL systems help new drivers gain skills under low-risk conditions. As drivers move through stages, they are given extra driving privileges.

Visit for more information on playing a key role in your teen's safety on the road.


1 in 10 teens in high school drinks and drives.
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