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Tips for teen drivers as prom season approaches

Posted at 8:29 PM, Apr 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-20 10:35:40-04

Prom season has arrived in Clark County, which unfortunately coincides with the most dangerous months of the year for teenage drivers.

While this season offers many memorable experiences for teenagers, it can also include poor decision making behind the wheel, such as joyriding, taking illegal passengers and feeling peer pressure to take risks.

Nearly 1,700 young drivers (aged 16 to 20) were killed in U.S. crashes in 2014, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This underscores the importance for families to be there for their teenagers to ensure that they and their friends follow the very laws that have been designed to reduce their crash risk.

AAA Nevada encourages teenagers, parents and schools to remember the importance of safe driving this time of year.

“Teens have the highest crash rate of all drivers, and crashes are the leading cause of death for that age group,” said Cynthia Harris, spokesperson for AAA Nevada. “It’s important for parents to provide teens with the guidance and support they need to become responsible drivers.”

New analysis from the Highway Loss Data Institute found that more teens were driving between 2012 and 2014, reversing a downward trend that began about a decade ago. The analysis links the increase in teen drivers to improvements in the economy and higher teen employment. More teens on the road could mean more worries for parents.

This prom season, teach by example to keep your teen safe.

  • Buckle up. Teen drivers have the lowest rate of seat belt use according to the Centers for Disease Control. In 2013, only 55 percent of high school students reported always wearing a seat belt when riding with someone else. Wearing a seat belt reduces serious crash-related injuries by about half.
  • Put your cell phone and other distractions away. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 58 percent of teen driver crashes were caused by distractions such as cell phones or passengers.
  • Obey driving laws, practice safety and show you take driving seriously. Studies have shown a reduction in risky driving, traffic violations and crashes among teens whose parents set limits on their initial driving privileges. Consider putting ground rules in place regarding driving hours, destinations and number of passengers in the car while your teen driver gains experience behind the wheel.
  • Review Nevada's Graduated Driver License (GDL) law. Under this law, drivers under 18 years old may not transport any passengers under 18, except for immediate family members, for the first 6 months after their license was issued. They also may not drive between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. unless traveling between school events or work. Law enforcement can ask for evidence of such an event.
  • Expose your teen driver to different situations while driving together – night and day, freeways and gravel roads, sunny days and wet weather – to increase their experience.

In addition, check out AAA online resources together.

-- Teendriving.aaa.com/NV – Find state-specific information to help parents and teens navigate the learning-to-drive process.

-- Driver-Zed – This interactive training tool helps teens recognize how to react in a variety of driving scenarios.

-- StartSmart Online Parent Session – This two-hour webinar explains the licensing process and demonstrates how to maximize driving practice sessions with your teen.

For more information about AAA Nevada, visit your local branch or visit AAA.com.

Contributed by AAA Nevada