In observance of Teen Driver Safety Week, Pennsylvania shared safety messages and valuable information with young drivers at high schools across the Commonwealth. The forum was held at Cedar Cliff High School and featured a panel of representatives from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), Pennsylvania State Police, Pennsylvania Department of Education, Pennsylvania Insurance Department (PID) and local safety advocates fielded questions from students on topics ranging from policies and procedures to safety information that directly affects teen drivers in Pennsylvania.
“We all have a part in making highways safer, and we all need to work together to help new drivers gain valuable experience and knowledge,” said PennDOT Secretary Mike Carroll. “Parents and teachers are an integral part of establishing a mentality of safety behind the wheel among teen drivers.”
Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death among teens. From 2018 to 2022, there were 79,684 crashes involving at least one 16- to 19-year- old driver in Pennsylvania, resulting in 458 fatalities. 65 percent of those crashes involved a teen driver driving too fast for conditions (24,695 crashes), driver inexperience (8,296), driver distraction (11,638) or improper/careless turning (13,109). There was a total of 51,949 crashes with one or more of these teen driver factors.
The risk of a crash involving any of these factors can be reduced through practice, limiting the number of passengers riding with a teen driver, obeying all rules of the road, and using common sense.
“An important factor in ensuring that a young driver develops good habits behind the wheel is parental involvement, starting long before their teen gets a learner’s permit,” said Colonel Christopher Paris, Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner. “We all can influence positive behaviors among teen drivers through our own actions by eliminating distractions and obeying all traffic laws, including seatbelt use.”
Parents should consider the following suggestions to help their children become safe and responsible drivers:
- Have regular conversations with your teen about safe driving skills, even before they get their learner’s permit.
- Establish a parent/teen driving contract.
- Strongly encourage your teen to avoid distractions behind the wheel, such as talking or texting on their cell phone.
- Limit the number of passengers your teen may have in their vehicle. Drivers under 18 may not carry more than one passenger under the age of 18 who is not an immediate family member unless one parent or guardian is in the vehicle. After the first six months of incident-free driving on a junior license, the limit is increased to no more than three passengers under the age of 18 who are not immediate family members unless one parent or guardian is in the vehicle.
- Limit dawn, dusk, and nighttime driving until your teen gains more experience and enforce a curfew. Remember, state law prohibits 16- and 17-year-olds with a junior license from driving between 11:00 PM and 5:00 AM.
- Gradually increase the amount of time/distance your teen is allowed to drive.
- Enforce observance of speed limits and other rules of the road.
- Ride with your teen occasionally after they receive their license to monitor driving skills.
- Set a good example with your own driving habits.
“Driving is a highly complex skill that requires years of practice to perfect,” said Department of Education Secretary Dr. Khalid N. Mumin. “Driver education training programs are invaluable in teaching novice drivers, especially teenagers, the critical skills they need to successfully and safely navigate on the roads.”
Driver education programs also offer an extended benefit to young drivers. The Pennsylvania Insurance Department reminds young drivers that in addition to shopping around, there are ways that they can proactively keep their rates lower, such as taking advantage of discount opportunities with taking driver’s ed classes and maintaining good grades. Teens who focus on making good decisions behind the wheel, such as always wearing a seatbelt, eliminating distractions, and putting phones away while driving, tend to avoid accidents and driving violations, which are key to keeping rates low.
“Auto insurance is an important financial protection for students and their families. While many high school students are excited to get their driver’s license, insurance rates for young drivers are high