Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Mom, Dad Must Help Kids Learn to Drive EVANSVILLE'S DR. MOM

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Mom, Dad Must Help Kids Learn to Drive EVANSVILLE'S DR. MOM

Article excerpt

When I was in high school, I couldn't wait to get my driver's license; only 16-year-olds look forward to spending their birthday with the friendly faces down at the DMV. Unfortunately, while I had lots of enthusiasm, I had limited experience operating a 2-ton piece of machinery, and three weeks later I managed to run my parents' car into another driver in the local McDonald's parking lot.

Since my father was understandably reluctant at that point to hand the keys over again, I got a job, saved my money and bought myself a used car. A few months later, on a stretch of empty country highway one Tuesday evening, I decided to see how fast my little green Mustang would go.

I remember seeing the speedometer hit 90 miles per hour shortly before I lost control of the vehicle and it spun off the road, rolling over a few times before it landed in a ditch. Seat belt laws were nonexistent in the'70s, so I bounced around the front seat like a Ping-Pong ball before the car came to a screeching halt.

I walked away from the accident with a broken nose and a huge auto repair bill, but the key phrase in that sentence is that I walked away.

Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for teens. Mile for mile, teens age 16 to 19 are four times more likely than other drivers to crash, and the risk is especially high during the first year that they are eligible to drive. The risk of an accident also increases when teens drive with other teens in the car.

While experience plays a large role in teen driving accidents, there are other factors involved as well. Studies show that the adolescent brain structure is still immature (not a surprising finding to any teenager's parent) and the portion of the brain that inhibits risky behavior may not be fully formed until age 25. In addition to experience and maturity issues, many teens also lack the skills to accurately assess risky situations (bad weather for example) and adapt accordingly. …

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