Sacramento teens to get safe driving lessons from California cops

Getting a driver's license is a major milestone for any teen. Unfortunately, for too many of them, it is also their last - drivers between the ages of 16 and 19 are more likely than any other age group to be involved in a car accident, and motor vehicle accidents are the number one cause of death for teenagers in the United States.

Stopping this trend is a major priority for safety officials in California. To that end, the California Highway Patrol has partnered with an organization called Impact Teen Drivers in an effort to teach safe driving habits to Sacramento-area teenagers.

To start, the partnership is focusing on teaching teens about the dangers of distracted driving. Nationwide, distracted driving plays a role in approximately 80 percent of all vehicle crashes. What's more, data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that distracted driving accidents killed more than 3,330 people in the United States in 2011 alone. Because of their inexperience and inability to accurately perceive risks, teens are even more likely than adults to fall prey to distracting behaviors behind the wheel.

The CHP's campaign will continue through September 2013. The agency hopes that a combination of education and law enforcement will help teens learn to make better decisions behind the wheel.

Safe driving starts at home

Of course, it is important to remember that public safety campaigns like this one can only go so far to stop teen distracted driving. Parents need to make sure that teens are taught safe driving habits early on, and that there are clear consequences for violating safe driving rules.

If you have a teen driver in your home, consider starting with the following tips:

  • Set clear rules: Make sure teens know that their driving privileges are contingent on following the rules. If they break the rules, don't hesitate to take the keys away.
  • Keep an eye on their behavior: When driving with teens, watch what they do, and correct them when they make a mistake. If your teen is allowed to drive alone, look into software that blocks incoming calls and text messages when the vehicle is in motion.
  • Be a good example: Most kids learn to drive by watching their parents, and this process starts well before they are old enough to get a learner's permit. Make sure you are modeling good driving habits every time you get behind the wheel, and don't allow your children to ride with drivers - either teenaged or adult - who engage in risky behaviors.
  • Explain the consequences: Make sure teens understand that the rules about texting and driving aren't arbitrary, and they aren't intended to feel like a punishment. Texting is against the rules because it is dangerous, and no text message is worth the risk of dying or killing another person.

By starting a conversation in your home, you can help ensure that your teens will make good driving decisions, even when you are not around.