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Teen Driver Safety Week; October 20 - 26

New AAA Foundation study shows more teens are obtaining their license before the age of 18; AAA creates contest for schools to spread awareness of GDLs

National Teen Driver Safety Week began Sunday. New teen drivers are three times as likely as adults to be involved in a deadly crash. AAA says "graduated drivers licenses" greatly reduce that risk.

New AAA Foundation research reveals an encouraging trend of teen drivers obtaining their license before the age of 18, compared to seven years ago.

According to the study:

  • More than 60% of teens get their driver's license before the age of 18 (an 11% increase compared to 2012).
  • 40.8% got their license at or before age 16.
  • Only half (49.8%) of teens in large cities obtain their license before the age of 18, compared with nearly two-thirds of those in less urbanized areas.

"Past trends of waiting until you turn 18 to be licensed was a cause for concern," Jenkins said. "Many of these young drivers were getting behind the wheel with minimal knowledge or support, putting themselves and others at risk. Now, more teens are starting to drive at an age when they can gradually learn the necessary skills to be safe behind the wheel, and that is great news for all drivers."

All states have graduated driver licensing (GDL) systems for teenage drivers to help them gradually learn the rules of the road under less risky conditions. These programs require minimum holding periods and practice requirements for teens with learner's permits, followed by restricted licenses that limit driving at night or with peer passengers.

In Florida:

  • 15 year olds can obtain a learner's license, and may drive during specific hours, while accompanied by a licensed driver who is at least 21 years old.
  • 16 is the minimum age for unsupervised driving.
  • Nighttime driver restrictions - 11 p.m. - 6 a.m. (16 year olds), 1 a.m. - 5 a.m. (17 year olds)

Nearly 28% of the young adults in the AAA Foundation survey reported waiting until they were 18 or older to get their license. Previous AAA Foundation research found that drivers first licensed at age 18 are more likely to be involved in a crash resulting in injuries during their first year of solo driving than new drivers licensed at any other age.

Reasons why young adults delay licensure:

  • Nervous about driving (68.4%)
  • They could do everything they needed without driving (52.6%)
  • Driving was too expensive (33.3%)
  • Too busy to get a license (28.9%)
  • Family members did not have time to help them get their license (20.5%)

AAA Recommendations

"It is imperative that all new drivers practice driving with a skilled coach through a variety of routes and in different weather conditions before heading out on their own," said Jenkins. "Novice drivers shouldn't let the first time that they drive in the rain or on the freeway be at a time when they're alone."

By setting parameters, new drivers can greatly minimize their risk of a crash. AAA recommends that regardless of their age when first learning to drive, new drivers should remember to "R.E.A.D the road":

  • R = Right speed, for right now: Always mind the speed limit and reduce your speed when traveling in adverse weather conditions.
  • E = Eyes up, brain on: Always scan the road to anticipate dangers ahead. Eliminate distractions and keep your mind focused on the task of driving.
  • A = Anticipate their next move: Be aware of other drivers on the road. Anticipate their next move and always have a plan to respond.
  • D = Huge DONUT of space around your vehicle: Keep large amounts of space to the front and sides of your vehicle.

Tools for Parents and New Drivers

  • Visit TeenDriving.AAA.com for a variety of tools to help prepare parents and teach new drivers the rules of the road.
  • The online AAA StartSmart program also offers great resources for parents on how to become effective in-car coaches as well as advice on how to manage their teen's overall driving privileges.
  • Novice drivers preparing for the responsibility of driving alone should enroll in a driver education program that teaches how to avoid driver distraction and other safety skills.

AAA Contest for Schools

AAA, as a member of The Florida Teen Safe Driving Coalition, is sponsoring a statewide PSA contest to educate teens and parents about graduated driver licensing (GDL). AAA has committed $5,500 in prizes to be awarded to 13 schools who submit the best positive message PSA that educates about GDL in Florida.

About the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety

Established in 1947 by AAA, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a not-for-profit, publicly funded, 501(c)(3) charitable research and educational organization. The AAA Foundation's mission is to prevent traffic deaths and injuries by conducting research into their causes and by educating the public about strategies to prevent crashes and reduce injuries when they do occur. This research is used to develop educational materials for drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists and other road users. Visit www.AAAFoundation.org.

About The Auto Club Group
The Auto Club Group (ACG) is the second largest AAA club in North America. ACG and its affiliates provide membership, insurance, financial services and travel offerings to over 9.9 million members across 11 states and two U.S. territories including Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands; most of Illinois and Minnesota; and a portion of Indiana. ACG belongs to the national AAA federation with more than 60 million members in the United States and Canada and whose mission includes protecting and advancing freedom of mobility and improving traffic safety. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel, and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. Visit AAA on the Internet at AAA.com.