Here’s a dilemma many parents face after their teen gets a driver’s license: Do you hand over the keys to the family car or do you let your teen drive a car of their own? According to a new study we found on ABC News, you should consider sharing the family car for now. That’s because teens who drive their own car are twice as likely to be involved in an accident. Why? Dr. Flaura Winston codirects the Center for Injury Research and Prevention in Philadelphia. She says it boils down to the freedom people feel when they’re the primary driver of a car. Basically: If you can just grab the keys and go whenever you feel like it, you’re going to have the impression that no one’s keeping track of you, and that can lead to more aggressive or careless driving behaviors. That mindset can spell disaster for an inexperienced teen driver. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, car accidents are the leading cause of death among 16 and 17 year-olds - killing nearly 2,000 teens in North America every year! However, teens are more likely to follow safe driving habits if they always have to go to a parent to borrow the car keys. Why? Because teens who share a car usually have to follow certain ground rules before they can leave the house. Research shows that teens who follow strict rules when they first learn to drive are 70% less likely to drink and drive, half as likely to speed, and 30% less likely to drive while using a cell phone!
So what rules should you set for a teen driver? Dr. Winston recommends first-time drivers only drive during daylight hours, never drive on high-speed highways, and never drive with another teen. That last one is especially important for BOYS. A teenage male driving with another teenage male passenger leads to higher incidence of speeding and tailgating. 61% of teenage passenger deaths occur in vehicles driven by another teenager. Bottom line: The safest way for a teen to gain driving experience is to share their wheels with their parents for a while.