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Firm Parents Keep Teen Drivers Safe
Date:9/25/2009

Supportive rules reduce crashes, drunk driving and cell phone use on the road: studies

MONDAY, Sept. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Your parenting style can make a huge difference in your teen's safety once he or she gets behind the wheel of a car.

Parents who set firm rules, but do so in a helpful, supportive way, can reduce the likelihood of their teen getting into an auto accident by half and decrease rates of drinking and driving, two new studies find. Positive rule-setting can also increase the odds a teen will wear a seatbelt and lessen the likelihood of talking or texting on a cell phone while driving.

"Parent involvement really matters. Active parenting can save teenagers' lives," said Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg, an adolescent medicine specialist at the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. "Parents who give rules, set boundaries and monitor those boundaries with warmth and support can have a really dramatic effect on teen driving safety."

Ginsburg is the lead author of two studies published online in Pediatrics on Sept. 28. Both studies were sponsored by State Farm Insurance.

The first study looked at the association between parenting styles and teen driving behaviors and attitudes, while the second assessed teen behavior based on their access to a vehicle.

The first study included a nationally representative sample of 5,665 teens in 9th through 11th grades. Parenting style was reported by the teens and fell into one of four categories: authoritative (high support along with rules and monitoring); authoritarian (low support with rules and monitoring), permissive (high support with low rules and monitoring), and uninvolved (low support and low rules).

Teens who had authoritative or authoritarian parents wore seatbelts twice as often as teens with uninvolved parents. Teens with parents in these groups were also half as likely to speed
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