Two studies coming out in the journal Pediatric Friday show that parents have a big impact on the safety of teen drivers.
Parents who are actively involved in setting rules and boundaries, and following up on those rules, lead to safer drivers. Teens who say their parents are actively involved cut their risk of drinking and driving by 70%, are half as likely to speed and 30% less likely to use a cellphone. And kids who don't have access to their "own" car — they have to ask for the keys — are half as likely to get into a crash.
"The real message of this paper is that parents matter," says Ken Ginsburg, associate professor of pediatrics at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and author of one of the papers. "If you take this seriously and you are an active parent that gives appropriate rules and appropriate boundaries combined with warmth and support, you can actually make a tremendous difference here."
Ginsburg says parents who are most effective at curbing bad driving behavior are those who enforce strict rules, but in a kind way. Parents need to send a message that they are looking out for their teen's safety, and give them opportunities to earn more privileges as their driving skills progress.