Nancy O’Dell, hostess of Entertainment Tonight and Access Hollywood, is convinced that spending more time behind the wheel with a teenager after receiving a driver’s license is a matter of life and death. Her 17-year-old stepson, Tyler, has his learner’s permit and she is committed to making sure that he has the experience needed to be safe in a world that is more distracting than ever with mobile phones and other gadgets in the car.
O’Dell discovered that the amount of experience needed to be a safe teen driver cannot be found in the driver training manuals or state laws. So she partnered with the Allstate Foundation and the National Safety Council to support the Drive it Home Campaign which educates and supports parents in their role for preparing teens to be safe drivers.
“Research shows that the most dangerous year of a teenager’s life is the first year behind the wheel after receiving their license,” O’Dell said. “Crashes are caused by lack of experience.”
Dr. Kelly Browning is the Executive Director of Impact Teen Driving, a Sacramento non-profit dedicated to promoting a safe teen driving culture through awareness and education. “Turning 18 years old is not a magic number,” Browning said. “Parents need to understand that they are the ones ultimately who determine what is right for their child. And each child may be different.”
According to Browning, the amount of supervision is key. If your child is not making good decisions, whether or not they have their license, then they should not be granted complete autonomy until they demonstrate safe driving competency.
Browning points to research in California, recently submitted Scott Masten et.al, to the Journal of Safety for publication, finding that training to levels of competency for the individual is the deciding factor for teen driving safety. The trend in California is for teens to delay applying for driver’s licenses until they are no longer required by law to participate in the graduated driver’s license program (GDL). Below are the highlights of the study findings:
- Some CA teens appear to delay licensure until age 18: No GDL or driver education.
- 18-19 novices who avoid GDL are worse than ALL other novices, even younger teens
- Conclusion: Driving to level of safety competency via GDL, may benefit novices of all ages
According to Browning, the experience that promotes competency is driving in the more risky situations, such as night time, wet or snowy roads, and freeway on-ramps. Equally important is the criteria for staying focused on the road while driving and scanning the road (not distracted).
O’Dell encourages parents to check out the Drive It Home campaign. “There are great tips about how to get past your teen’s inexperience,” she said. “You can set the terms for the driving privilege beyond the limits of the law after receiving a license, including no access to mobile phone (put it in the back seat), when to carry passengers, and driving in wet or stormy weather conditions.”
- Banana Moments: Help for Parenting in the Network Culture
- The Authority In Me (parental authority with texting and social media)
- Impact Teen Drivers
- Drive it Home Campaign
- Nancy O’Dell
- National Safety Council