Motor vehicle incidents are among the top causes of unintentional injury for teens in Alberta. Both drivers and passengers of motor vehicles are at risk for serious injury, permanent disability, or death.
Most teen drivers overestimate their driving abilities and underestimate the risks of driving. Crash rates are especially high during the first year of unsupervised driving. Using smart risk strategies - look first, get trained, buckle up, and drive sober - can help teens have a better experience behind the wheel and keep their passengers safe.
The Smart Risk Approach
Take the time to clean windows and mirrors and adjust your seat. Make sure you can see the road clearly every time you get behind the wheel. Pay extra attention when driving at night. The risk of a serious crash goes up when it is dark.
New drivers must develop new motor skills and decision-making skills. Learn driving skills from a driving instructor. Get at least 50 hours of supervised practice in different driving conditions before you go out on your own.
Use a seatbelt every time. Make sure there are enough seatbelts for everyone. It's the law.
Driving sober means being fully in control of your mind and body when behind the wheel of any vehicle - car, truck, all-terrain vehicle (ATV), boat, or snowmobile. It means driving without alcohol or drugs in your system, not being tired, and not being distracted (like using your cell phone or by friends).
Passengers need to know that driving should take your full attention, especially for new drivers. Don’t let passengers distract you.
Alberta’s distracted driving law restricts drivers from texting, reading, using hand-held cell phones, and other distracting activities while driving. The fine for this offence is $172. For more information about the distracted driving law read
Distracted Driving Legislation Bill 16.
Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) reduces injuries among new drivers. The reason is simple: GDL programs limit exposure to the highest risk conditions for new drivers. This lets them get more experience gradually, under conditions that aren’t as risky.
GDL became the law in 2003, changing the way new drivers are licensed in Alberta. Alberta’s
GDL program introduced the probationary operator’s license in between the learner’s license and the full driver’s license.
GDL programs are a good start to increasing road safety for everyone. Parents of young drivers also have an important role.
Teens often make decisions involving risk taking. However, being able to assess the risks and consequences, develops as they get older. To prevent dangerous risk-taking and injuries, teens must learn how to recognize risk, manage risk, and make healthy choices.
Parents can help teens learn how to manage risk by letting them try new things and making sure they understand how to stay safe. An important part of parenting teens is helping them learn to watch for and manage risks. They need practice to do this. You can use this approach for many of your teen’s new responsibilities and challenges, including driving.
Research shows that teen drivers have fewer crashes when parents put limits on unsupervised driving and relax these limits gradually, as the young driver has more driving experience. Parents can lead by example and model safe driving behaviour.
Parent/Teen Driving Agreement outlines the major risks for young drivers and what parents can do to reduce the risks. It also helps a parent and teen make a plan for unsupervised driving that gradually relaxes limits as their child has more driving experience.
Current as of: February 7, 2018
Author: Provincial Injury Prevention Program, Alberta Health Services
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