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

as those with uninvolved parents. Teens with authoritative parents -- high support and rules -- were half as likely to get into a car accident, 71 percent less likely to drink and drive, and 29 percent less likely to talk or text on their cell phones while driving compared to teens with uninvolved parents.

The second study included 2,167 teens and found that 70 percent had "primary access" to a vehicle. That didn't necessarily mean that the teens had their own cars, Ginsburg said, but it could mean they had easy access to the keys and didn't need to ask permission to take a family car.

After controlling the data to account for the extra hours these teens likely spent behind the wheel, the researchers found that teens with easy access to a vehicle were more than twice as likely to crash, about 25 percent more likely to use a cell phone while driving and about 25 percent more likely to speed than teens who had to ask permission to use a car.

Why the difference? Ginsburg said he suspects it's because teens with easy access to a car don't necessarily feel as accountable. They don't have anyone asking where they're going or whom they'll be with. "They miss out on that conversation and appropriate monitoring," he said.

Parents should control the keys to the car for at least the first six to 12 months of driving, he added.

Ginsburg said there are clear rules that must always be followed, and rules that will change as your teen gains experience and demonstrates responsibility.

Clear rules include:

  • Always wear your seatbelt.
  • Never speed.
  • Never drink and drive.
  • Never drive fatigued.
  • Never use your cell phone or text while driving.

Rules that can change as your child gains experience and skill include having passengers, driving at night, increased access to the car and driving in bad weather. Ginsburg said it's important to make sur
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