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More help from parents during driver training can reduce risk of Boston car accidents among teenagers

Parents can reduce the risk of their teen being involved in a Massachusetts car accident by spending more time on the road with them during the permitting process, according to a new study being released this week by the AAA Foundation for Highway Safety.
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The New York Times reports that nearly half of all parents remained uncomfortable with at least one aspect of their teen’s driving abilities even after a year-long permit process. Still, one-third allowed their child to obtain their driver’s license within 30 days of becoming eligible. The study found teens could use additional training, particularly dealing with challenging conditions like heavy traffic, night driving and bad weather.

Our Boston accident lawyers frequently report on the dangers faced by teenagers behind the wheel. Traffic accidents are the leading cause of death among teenagers ages 15 to 20, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Nationwide, a total of 6,428 motorists were killed in traffic accidents involving teen drivers in 2008, accounting for one-sixth of the nation’s deadly car accidents.

Massachusetts car accidents involving teen drivers claimed 68 lives that year.

“One of the best things parents can do to reduce the risk is to spend as much time as possible with their children to provide guidance driving in a variety of situations so they can gain experience and competence,” said Peter Kissinger, CEO of the Foundation. “If they do, it will have a significant impact on the teenager’s later driving experience.”

The study, which is among the first to follow the interaction of parent and child during the licensing process, found that more than half of all parents routinely provided instruction on operating the vehicle (like “slow down”) but fewer than 5 percent of instructional comments were aimed at assisting teenagers in learning defensive driving techniques, such as scanning the road or anticipating the actions of another driver.

There was also wide variation in the amount of time a parent spent with a child learning to drive. The National Safety Council said that the time immediately after a teen gets their license is vital. “If they knew the risk, they would take a much more active role,” said David Teater, of the NSC.

If you have been injured in a Boston car accident, contact Massachusetts Injury Attorney Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential appointment to discuss your rights. Call 877-617-5333.