Secretary of State Ruth Johnson today, in recognition of National Teen Driver Safety Week, encouraged parents and guardians to take an active role in coaching their teen driver as they practice behind-the-wheel skills together.
“Parents are the single greatest influence on a young person’s safe-driving habits,” Johnson said. “I encourage parents and guardians to make the most of the time your teen spends driving with you. Take your teen driving in a mix of driving environments and conditions, such as on highways and country roads, and in rain storms and heavy fog. The more experience they get while driving with you, the more confident and safe they’ll be driving by themselves.”
As part of the state’s Graduated Driver Licensing program, teens must practice driving with a parent or guardian for at least 50 hours, 10 of which must be at night. Once they get at least 50 hours of practice, they can take the road-skills test and progress to a Level 2 intermediate license, which lets teens drive by themselves with passenger and nighttime restrictions.
To help parents better coach their teen driver, Johnson partnered with the national traffic-safety group Safe Roads Alliance to offer The Parents Supervised Driving Guide and its related smartphone application late last year. The program’s guidebook focuses on the important role of parents during the first phase of the Graduated Driver Licensing program for teen drivers, providing a resource to help and encourage parents to expand upon the amount and diversity of their teen’s practice driving experience.
Parents and teens are also encouraged to download the award-winning program’s free mobile app, RoadReady™, to track the time they spend together behind the wheel with the click of a button. The app is available from the App Store for iOS devices and will be available for Android devices in the future.
The Parent’s Supervised Driving Guide is given to teen drivers and their parents or guardians when the teen applies for the Level 1 learner’s license. It’s also available online at www.Michigan.gov/teendriver, a resource site Johnson created to help guide teens and parents through the Graduated Driver Licensing program. An e-reader version of the booklet is also available.
Johnson also created a monthly email newsletter as another way to provide teen drivers and their parents coaching tips when they drive together, updates about new driver laws and reminders for teens about safe driving. People can sign up by visiting the teen driver website and clicking on the red envelope icon. People also can subscribe by texting “MSOS GDL” and then their email address to 468-311. If a subscriber leaves out their email address, they will be sent text message updates with a link to the newsletter.
As part of Johnson’s goal to keep teen drivers safe on the road and further reduce the number of teens involved in vehicle crashes, her office sought a review by a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration-sponsored panel of national experts. Their report called the Secretary of State Office’s driver education and traffic safety programs exemplary, and the panel’s lead safety expert called Michigan “lucky to have so many dedicated teen driver safety officials, instructors and volunteers. Every day all across the state, teens are receiving top-quality instruction and guidance.”
Michigan’s success in training new drivers is reflected in the remarkable reduction of young drivers aged 16 to 20 involved in crashes over the past decade. From 2004 to 2013, the number of crashes involving teen and young adult drivers decreased 38 percent and the number of fatal crashes involving that group decreased 45 percent.