The American Academy of Pediatrics has issued some guidelines about teenage driving. Teen drivers have a higher rate of crashes than drivers of any other age group as teen drivers lack the experience and ability to perform many of the complex tasks associated with driving. Teens, particularly males, are more likely to succumb to peer pressure, overestimate their abilities and have emotional mood swings, leading to crashes.

The chance of a teen driver being involved in a car crash is directly proportional to the number of teenage passengers being transported. Alcohol and drug use increases the risks. Teenage drivers drive after using drug and alcohol less often than older drivers, but experience twice as many alcohol and drug related crashes.

Seat belt use matters. Teenage drivers wear restraints far less often than other drivers. More than half of the teenagers killed in automobile crashes in 2012 were not wearing seat belts. Teens are also far more likely to text and drive and to become more easily distracted than other drivers.

The American Academy has proposed the following recommendations:

• A learning permit period that starts at age 16 and lasts no longer than six months.

• Fifty hours of adult supervised on the road driving during the permit stage with 10 hours at night.

• Nighttime driving restriction that lasts from midnight to 5 a.m. until age 18.

• Passenger restrictions including no teenage passengers the first six months of provisional licensure and then no more than one teenage passenger until age 18.

• Prompt imposition of fines, remedial driver’s classes or license suspension for passenger or curfew restrictions.

• Use of safety belts and appropriate child restraints by all occupants.

• No mobile phone use including the use of hands free devices.
If every state had a graduated driver’s license program that met the AAP recommendations:

• 175 fewer teens would die in crashes every year;

• 350,000 fewer teens would be injured; and

• More than $13 billion in crash-related expenditure would be saved.

No state has more than five of the seven recommendations. Texas has four out of the seven recommendations, and it is thought that this is reducing the number of fatal crashes by 21 percent and injury crashes by 36 percent.

For more help for your teenage driver, go to the AAP Parent-Teen Driving Agreement, which can be found at Agreement.aspx.

Sally Robinson is a clinical professor of pediatrics at UTMB Children’s Hospital. This column isn’t intended to replace the advice of your child’s physician.