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What Should I Tell My Teen About Car Accidents?

Getting a driver’s license is a major milestone for the average teenager. However, it is also a big responsibility. From speeding and tailgating to distracted driving, teens often engage in unsafe driving behaviors. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), car accidents are the leading cause of death for teens between the ages of 16 and 19. Many of these accidents are preventable if parents set a good example and communicate with their teens about the importance of driving safely.

Getting a driver’s license in Maryland is a multi-stage process. Teens can receive a learner’s permit at the age of 15 and nine months. With a learner’s permit, a teen must always be accompanied by a licensed driver at least 21 years old. The teen driver must log at least 60 hours of certified driving, including a minimum of 10 hours at night. The driver is also required to fill out a skills log, have it signed by a qualified driver, and submit it to the MVA.

If the requirements are met and the teen driver has no convictions, they will be eligible for a provisional license, which allows the newly licensed driver to drive unsupervised between 5:00 a.m. and midnight. In addition, they may not drive with passengers under the age of 18 for the first 5 months, unless the passenger is a family member. After holding a provisional license for 18 months with no violations, they are eligible for a full unrestricted license.

Advice for Parents of New Drivers
Research shows that teens rarely get into car accidents when their parents are in the car. However, things change once they are alone in the vehicle. Seat belt usage drops by roughly 60 percent, and teens are more likely to tailgate or exceed the speed limit. To prevent accidents from happening, parents can do the following:

Obey the rules of the road, avoid talking or texting while driving, and stay calm if other drivers show signs of road rage.
Make sure that your teen understands the importance of driving safely, and that there will be consequences for making poor choices.
Most accidents involving teens occur between 3:00 p.m. and midnight, and on weekends. Limit the use of the car until the teen has proven that they are responsible.
Make sure that they understand and follow the driving laws and restrictions; this includes curfews, laws about cellphone use, and the number of passengers allowed in the vehicle.

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