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Distracted driving: the role of parental responsibility

"The Kids Are All Right" was the title of a recent movie. It's a nice phrase - and the movie did win a Golden Globe award. But when it comes to car accidents, the kids are definitely not alright.

Teens are twice as likely as any other age group to be in fatal car crashes. Federal safety data shows this very clearly.

In San Antonio and across the nation, then, it is vitally important for teens to receive better training on how to stay safe on the road. There are of course many safety programs aimed at accomplishing that purpose. In San Antonio, one such program is run by Toyota at its plant there.

The program is called Toyota Driving Expectations (TDE).  It emphasizes exposing young drivers to the risks of texting while driving and other forms of distraction. The goal is to make them see the rationale for why distracted driving should not be tolerated.

The exposure to distracted driving comes through several different channels. Teenagers and their parents watch educational videos and listen to traditional lectures. But the program also includes time on the road with professional racecar drivers, seeking to show up close the dangers of multi-tasking behind the wheel.

The program has been around for a decade. It is a joint effort between the Toyota manufacturing plant in San Antonio and Toyota's Collaborative Safety Research Center.

The presence of parents in the program adds a much-needed element. After all, parents have a major responsibility to help their children become safe drivers.  

Parents can do this in several important ways. One is by modeling safe driving habits. Another is by establishing and enforcing clear driving guidelines for their children.

The more parents do these things, the better the chances that their kids — and others on the road — will be alright.

Source: My San Antonio, "Area teens learn defensive driving with free classes," Jeremy Gerlach, June 10, 2013

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