National Teen Driver Safety Week (October 16-22 in 2016) is an opportune time to think about ways to keep teen drivers safe during their first years behind the wheel.  Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for 15- to 19- year olds in the United States.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 2,679 teen drivers were involved in fatal crashes in 2014, and an estimated 123,000 teens were injured.


What can parents do to help their teens stay safe?  Below, a few tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, NHTSA, and Nova Driving School to ensure young drivers’ safety:


-To address driver inexperience, parents should provide at least 50 hours of supervised driving practice. The practice should take place on a variety of roads, at different times of day, and in varied weather and traffic conditions.  Illinois requires at least 10 hours of practice at night.


-To minimize distractions from passengers, parents should set limits on the number of passengers allowed in the car.  In Illinois, for the first 12 months of licensing, or until the driver turns 18, whichever occurs first, the number of passengers is limited to only one person under the age of 20 (with some exceptions, such as teens driving their siblings).


-Since night driving is especially hazardous, parents can set their own curfews for teens in addition to the curfews set by municipalities and the nighttime driving limits set by the state.  Under Illinois law, drivers under age 18 are not allowed to drive from 10:00 p.m.-6:00 a.m. (Sunday through Thursday) or from 11:00 p.m.-6:00 a.m. (Friday and Saturday).


Look for additional tips regarding seat belt use, distractions, speeding and other topics at the conclusion of this year’s National Teen Driver Safety Week.