Lessons from the Road

New Teen Drivers

Getting a driver’s license is a milestone in a teen’s life. Each year, some 9,000 16-and 17-year-olds get behind the wheel nationwide with their driver’s licenses. Young drivers are already at risk for car crashes, due to the combination of driving inexperience and distractions, such as having additional passengers in the car, eating, or talking on cell phones. In fact, collisions are the leading cause of death for young people aged 15-20. These accident risks are greater when the driver is using illicit drugs, such as marijuana, as well.

Here are some guidelines parents can follow to help their teen avoid drugged, drunk, and distracted driving:

Know What’s In The Car: One of the most common places high school seniors report smoking marijuana is in their cars. There are numerous products on the market that disguise drugs and drug paraphernalia as everyday items, such as soda cans and CD cases, which teens can easily carry in cars without attracting attention. Parents should become familiar with these items – and other hiding places for drugs – and conduct occasional car checks.

Map Out A Plan: Set limits on driving, especially in high-risk conditions such as at night or on the highway, in poor weather conditions and with other teens in the car. Limit your teen from riding with other new drivers, and make sure he or she never gets in a car with anyone who has been drinking or using other drugs.

Take Caution: Know where your teen is and who he or she is with. Get to know your teen’s friends and their friends’ parents. Be sure you know the route they intend to drive when they go out.

Establish Pit Stops: Develop a check-in time with your teen – a time when your child calls in and gives a “status report” of where he or she is and who he or she is with.

Go For A Spin: Reinforce safe driving skills with your teen even after he or she has a license by going for drives together. This can also be a good time to catch up and have an open conversation about important issues like alcohol or other drugs.

Did You Know?

.        Approximately one in six high school seniors in the U.S. report driving under the influence of marijuana.

.        Nearly one in five 16-year-old drivers is involved in a collision in their first year of driving.

To keep teen drivers safe on the road, many states are imposing rules regarding the number of passengers teen drivers can have in the car, cell phone usage and the number of hours new drivers can be on the road. Be sure to check with your state’s Department of Transportation web site for specific details.

The above information from TheAntiDrug.com, is brought to you by the South Bay Coalition and the Manhattan Beach Police Department. The South Bay Coalition (www.sbcoalition.com) is a non-profit partnership of agencies working to prevent substance abuse among our community’s youth.To order our booklet: A Parent’s Guide To The Prevention Of Alcohol And Other Drugs, please visit our website or contact: events@sbcoalition.com.