Parental instruction crucial in reducing the risk of Chicago car accidents involving teenagers

Parents need to become more involved in talking to teenagers about the role poor driving decisions play in their risk of being involved in a serious or fatal Chicago car accident, according to a new study released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

The New York Times was among the first media outlets to report on the new study as soon as it was released Tuesday — National Teen Driver Safety Week is next week as safety advocates preach the message in advance of the upcoming homecoming and holiday seasons.

Our Chicago accident attorneys frequently report the dangers teenagers face behind the wheel. Car accidents are the number one cause of death for teens ages 15 to 19, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Name a poor driving habit and teens are the worst offenders: Drunk driving, failure to wear seat belts, text messaging while driving, distracted driving, speeding, and riding with too many passengers in the vehicle.The new study found that parents are not giving their teenagers enough experience behind the wheel, particularly in challenging situations like heavy traffic, night driving or bad weather. Illinois’ graduated driver’s licensing program is a national leader — and the extra training helps. But it is no substitute for time behind the wheel with a parent.

Nearly half of all parents who participated in the study reported that, even after their teen spent a year in the learner’s stage, there was at least one driving condition with which a parent was not comfortable with their child’s skills. Still, more than one-third of all parents allowed their child to get their driver’s license within a month of being eligible.

The study — which used video cameras and is among the first to look at the interaction of parent and child during the driver’s education process — found that parents were most likely to give instruction on the handling of the vehicle (like speed) and least likely to convey other important driving instructions, such as defensive driving techniques like anticipating the actions of another motorist.

This gap was so pronounced — more than half of all instructive comments (54 percent) involved vehicle handling, while less than 5 percent dealt with visual scanning or other defensive driving techniques — that it was among the study’s most surprising findings.

The study also revealed that the amount of time parents spend practicing with teenagers varied greatly — and only 1 in 4 parents mentioned the need to accompany their teenager for practice in a variety of driving conditions.

“One of the best things parents can do to reduce the risk is to spend as much time as possible with their children to provide guidance driving in a variety of situations so they can gain experience and competence,” said Peter Kissinger, the AAA Foundation’s chief executive. “If they do, it will have a significant impact on the teenager’s later driving experience.”

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, call the Chicago car crash attorneys at Abels & Annes for a free consultation to discuss your rights. Call (866) 99-ABELS.

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