When it comes to teen driving, parents play a key role in improving safety. That's the idea behind the "5 to Drive" initiative - a campaign from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that encourages parents to start conversations about safe driving by:
• Discussing five critical driving practices with teens
• Reinforcing those habits as teens get comfortable behind the wheel
• Setting an example by being good role models
"The best way you can help beginning drivers is to talk with them about safe driving," said JJ Puccio, a State Farm Insurance agent in Statesboro. "Share your experiences. Share your knowledge."
Establish an open dialogue with your teen driver today by discussing the safety topics outlined by "5 to Drive":
1. Talking and Texting
The numbers say it all: Dialing a phone while driving increases your risk of crashing by three times; texting while driving increases it by 2 times. For more proof, visit distraction.gov to read stats and stories of those affected.
2. Extra Passengers
Cell phones aren't the only behind-the-wheel distraction - friends can unknowingly do more harm than good. According to NHTSA, teen drivers are three times more likely to engage in risky behaviors while riding with multiple passengers. If applicable, share your state's graduated driver licensing program passenger restrictions with your teen. And don't be afraid to enforce your own rules regarding extra riders.
Speeding has pricey consequences, from a ticket to a crash. In fact, speeding was a factor in 35 percent of fatal crashes involving teen drivers in 2011, according to the NHTSA.
4. Drinking and Driving
Teens are more likely to die in an alcohol-related crash than anyone else. Talk with new drivers about the consequences, review stories of teens impacted by drunk driving and remind them never to ride with someone who has been drinking.
5. Wearing a Seat Belt
Clicking your seat belt takes a matter of seconds, and it's your best defense in an accident - not to mention it's the law. Yet, around 53 percent of teen drivers killed in car accidents are not wearing one.
Also, safe student drivers might be in line for a discount. Most auto insurers provide discounts to student-drivers who maintain strong grades. In some states, younger drivers are also able to take driver safety courses that will lower premiums.
Learn more about safe teen driving by visiting the State Farm Teen Driver Safety website at teendriving.statefarm.com.
This article is sponsored by JJ Puccio, an insurance agent for State Farm in Statesboro. He can be reached at (912) 764-9061, or visit him at 102 N. College St.