Back-to-school time means that a new bolus of high-schoolers that got their license over the summer are hitting the streets for the first time during the school year.  All the data suggests that the first year of driving is an especially important time for safe driving skill development.  Fortunately, our State has a “Graduated Drivers License” provision to help better develop skills and limit distractions- keys to safe driving habits. 

So what’s a Graduated Driver’s License?  It means that for the first 6 months that a teen holds a license they can’t drive between midnight and 5 a.m. unless they have a parent in the car or are driving directly to or from a school or religious activity, a job or a family emergency.  They’re also limited to 1 passenger under 18 (except for siblings).  These limits are based on data that shows that late night driving and driving with other teen peer passengers sharply increase the risks of having a car crash.  There are three basic steps to this system, detailed on ADOT’s website.  A system like ours is estimated to reduce fatal crashes among 16 year olds by 20%. 

If you’re a concerned Arizona parent that’s looking for additional (evidence based) guidance that goes above and beyond the state limits check out (and share) the CDC’s new 60-second “Parents Are the Key” video about safe teen driving.  Parents can make a positive difference when it comes to preventing the number one killer of teens in the United States—car crashes by: 1) making sure your teen always wears a seat belt; 2) limiting your teen’s nighttime driving; 3) limiting the number of teen passengers allowed in the car to 1 or 2 at the most; and 4) having clear expectations about texting and phone use while your teen drives. You might also want to reinforce your rules with a Parent-Teen Driving AgreementYou can also join a conversation about safe teen driving on the Facebook.