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NHTSA focuses on teen drivers with '5 To Drive' campaign

In light of the distracted driving epidemic that now plagues U.S. roads, safety advocates are focusing even more on the importance of educating teen drivers on how to make good decisions behind the wheel. Teens are certainly not the only motorists who text or use cellphones while driving, but their connection to technology and inexperience behind the wheel makes them more likely to drive distracted and to cause a car accident as a result.

This is perhaps why the leading cause of death among young people ages 14 to 18 is traffic accidents. Thankfully, groups such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are always coming up with education and awareness campaigns designed to send a compelling and memorable message. The NHTSA's most recent campaign is "5 To Drive."

The aim of 5 To Drive is simple: to get teenagers and their parents talking about safety behind the wheel. Specifically, the NHTSA wants parents to insist that their teen driver follows five rules at all times. They include: 

  • No cell phones
  • No extra passengers
  • No speeding
  • No alcohol or drugs
  • Buckling up before each and every trip

These five safety tips are easy to remember, which means teens are more likely to recall them when they get into the driver's seat. Moreover, studies have shown that parents often have a greater influence on their teens' driving habits than they realize.

In addition to setting a good example and clearly laying down the safety rules, parents can also set consequences if their teenagers fail to follow all five rules. Commenting on the 5 To Drive campaign, NHTSA Administrator David Strickland noted that "No teen with a drivers' license wants to end up at the back of the school bus because mom and dad took away the keys. That's a threat that does mean something when you're in high school. trust me, that does work."

Teenagers are going to make mistakes and bad decisions at times. It's part of growing up. But when it comes to preventing car accidents, parents can't afford to let their young drivers learn by trial and error, because there may be no second chance to make things right. That's why it's especially important to stress the message of safe driving at every available opportunity.

Source: WNDU.com, "NHTSA begins 5 to Drive program," Oct. 22, 2013

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