Keeping teens street smart: Five rules for the road

Teens want to be hip and cool behind the wheel. Parents just want them to be safe. How can we help them be both?

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the United States. Inexperience, immaturity, and a sense of invulnerability contribute to a disproportionately high number of accidents among teen drivers.

Teens need to know how to be "street smart" behind the wheel to avoid potentially devastating consequences. Talk about these risks with your teen, and share your expectations with them before you hand over the keys.

There are many common-sense tips parents can share with young drivers, and then there are these non-negotiables:

• Shut your cell phone off while driving. If it has to be on, let your voice mail answer incoming calls. No texting while driving, as this is illegal in many states.

• Always obey the speed limit. No exceptions.

• Maintain a safe distance between you and the car ahead of you.

• Never drink alcohol or use drugs, especially before or while driving.

• Keep both hands on the wheel; watch the road and don't take risks.

What tips do you have for keeping teen drivers smart?

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