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AAA: Prepare Your Teen for All Driving Challenges

KNOXVILLE, Tenn.,­ – As Teen Driver Safety Week kicks off (October 20-26, 2013), AAA reminds parents of the critical role they play to ensure their teen receives supervised driving practice that prepares them for all driving challenges.

AAA recommends parents practice these four challenging driving scenarios with their teen during the learning-to-drive process. By becoming more involved in their teens’ driver education, parents will help their teens to build confidence and experience through these challenging driving situations before their teen hits the road solo.

Driving Challenges:

1. Avoiding a deer or animal – Each year many drivers are killed or injured in crashes involving animals. While animal crashes occur year-round, October and November are dangerous months for these types of crashes, so the time is now to properly prepare your teen driver.

-Most injuries in vehicle-animal crashes are not caused by hitting the animal but from leaving the roadway. So if your teen sees animal: slow down, keep both hands on the wheel, and don’t swerve. Some animals, like deer, travel in numbers so if you see one, watch for others. Animals may double back so even if it appears they have passed, stay alert.

2. Driving on rural roads – Driving on rural roads presents challenges to many drivers, including hairpin turns, limited sight distance and two-lane highways that aren’t well lit. Make sure teens get plenty of time on these roads while you can assist with coaching them.

-Help them understand how to slow down and gradually pull back onto the pavement should their right wheels drop off the roadway onto the shoulder. Over correcting is a major cause of crashes. Explain that, despite what the speed limit is, hills and curves often limit visibility. These and darkness or weather conditions often dictate traveling at slower speeds.

3. Passengers – A recent study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that teen drivers are much more likely to be killed in a crash when there are passengers under the age of 21 in the car. Crash risk goes up by 44% for just one passenger.

4. Late night driving – Driving at night means reduced visibility and greater fatigue. Teens also frequently drive too fast at night for the road conditions. With darkness occurring much earlier during the fall and winter months, parents need to realize that teens may now be driving home from after-school activities tired and in the dark. For inexperienced drivers, these factors can be an extremely dangerous combination, nearly doubling the risk of being in a crash.

-Make sure your teen gets an adequate amount of supervised practice driving after dark. And don’t let them have the keys if they are too tired to drive. Teens need at least 9 hours of sleep every night in order to maintain peak performance behind the wheel.

5. What to do in a crash – Despite all your best efforts, crashes sometimes occur. Understanding what to do and not to do is important.

-If the vehicle can be moved safely, pull it out of the traffic lane and safety on the shoulder or designated crash investigation zone. Call 911 right away. The dispatcher may indicate that both drivers should just exchange information. If exchanging information, get it directly from the other driver’s license and registration. Discussing the cause and who’s at fault should be done with the investigating officer as other drivers may tend to blame the teen driver. Don’t admit anything to the other driver. Tempers may be on edge; don’t engage. If you feel threatened or fear for your safety, get back into your vehicle if you can safely do so.

Parents should use AAA’s Parent-Teen Driving Agreement to limit the number of passengers their teen can have during their first years behind the wheel, and make sure they understand that the importance of staying focused on the road instead of socializing with passengers.

To encourage parents to share their wisdom with younger drivers, AAA is launching a national contest soliciting the best driving advice that parents wish to impart on teen drivers, along with a chance to challenge their own driving smarts by taking the “Are You Smarter than Your Teen Driver?” quiz. Parents can submit entries at Contest.TeenDriving.AAA.com from October 21 through December 11 and will be eligible to win prizes including an iPad® mini and VISA® gift cards. For more information on teen driving and resources for both parents and teens drivers, visit TeenDriving.AAA.com.

AAA Tennessee is a part of The Auto Club Group (ACG), the second largest AAA club in North America. ACG and its affiliates provide membership, travel, insurance and financial services offerings to approximately 8.8 million members across 11 states and two U.S. territories including Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands; most of Illinois, Minnesota; and a portion of Indiana. ACG belongs to the national AAA federation with nearly 54 million members in the United States and Canada and whose mission includes protecting and advancing freedom of mobility and improving traffic safety.