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Teen drivers safer when parents improve teaching skills

Study: Teen drivers
are safer when parents improve teaching skills

As the parent of a 16-year-old with a learner’s permit, I was interested to learn the results of a study that found parents who use certain online educational tools can improve the driving skills of their teenage children.

The clinical trial, published last Monday in JAMA Pediatrics, found that teens whose parents were randomly assigned instructional tools for about six months — such as watching two-minute videos on how to teach specific driving skills like three-point turns — were 65 percent less likely to fail a rigorous on-road driving assessment compared with teens in a control group whose parents didn’t get such instruction.

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Teens whose parents used the Teen Driving Plan program also were more likely to learn a variety of skills such as how to navigate at night or during a thunderstorm, how to merge onto a highway, and how to parallel park.

“Parents need to think not only about the number of hours their teen spends driving but also about the kinds of experiences that need to happen across those hours,” said study leader Jessica Mirman, a developmental psychologist at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. The study was funded by State Farm Insurance.

In Massachusetts, parents are required to take two hours of driver’s education instruction to learn how to guide their teen, who needs 40 hours of supervised driving before testing for a license. D.K.

Deborah Kotz can be reached at dkotz@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @debkotz2.
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