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Improve Teen Driver Safety with 'Rookie Driver' Symbol

Published Nov 15th 2007, 7:00pm by

Many parents feel defenseless in safeguarding their teenagers when they begin driving. There is one simple, yet important component often overlooked in improving teen driving safety: Identify the new driver's car.

Rookiedriver Parents can increase awareness of their teen driver by identifying their vehicle with a standardized 'rookie driver' symbol, advises Corinne Fortenbacher, president of Rookie DriverNet. The car magnet alerts other drivers when a novice driver is behind the wheel.

"By addressing the common culprit of driver inexperience, we can help reduce the teen driving toll," says Fortenbacher, president of Rookie Driver.Net. "Identifying a teen's driver status allows experienced drivers to anticipate common new-driver mistakes. We know to be more cautious and forgiving when we realize a teenager is new to the road."

Parents of Teens Play Critical Role in Driver Training:
Fortenbacher, a leading proponent of teen driving safety also advises that parents are the missing link to improving new driver safety. Unfortunately, they are largely alone when it comes to teaching their children to drive; Fortenbacher says, "32 states have little or no drivers' education requirements and that places most of the responsibility on the parent."

For years, in an effort to reduce teen driver accidents, states nationwide have been trying to improve teen driving safety by implementing tougher reforms. While the crash risk for all teens is high, it is especially dangerous for 15- and 16-year-olds. According to the National Institute for Highway Safety, they are nine times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than the driving population as a whole. Driving statistics show that more than a million teenagers are involved in auto crashes every year in the United States. The NHTSA lists driver inexperience as a leading cause.

Most states have implemented longer graduated drivers license programs that allow more time for parents to drive with their children during the learners permit phase. Supervised parent involvement with extended learning time proves to reduce exposure to high-risk situations, according to safety experts.

One of the most overlooked components in improving safety, states Fortenbacher suggests, is simply identifying their car with a standardized "New Driver" magnet that alerts other drivers that there is a novice driver behind the wheel.

Do kids want these symbols adorning their cars? "Probably not," admits Fortenbacher. "Inexperience is the leading cause of teen driving accidents. We must increase awareness of new drivers, and it is a parents' responsibility to insist that their child is taking advantage of every safety measure available."

"The parent must take full charge - absolute authority when a teenager begins driving," says Fortenbacher. "Today you are parents with a child. Do everything you can so you are not one of those families who has lost their child."

CorinneandaustinfortenbacherInsurance company research reveals that parental enforcement enhances safe driving habits. It is important to have discussions on safe driving practices, written parent/teen driving contracts, and an increased number of supervised driving hours. Advanced driving courses taught by professional instructors are also encouraged.

Rookie Driver.Net's products are designed by teens and can be found at RookieDriver.Net. The family-run firm (in photo: Corinne Fortenbacher and son Austin) has grown from a single product, launched in 2006, to a leading online provider of safety aids.

By Brandy Schaffels
Contributing Editor and mother of a soon-to-be-rookie driver


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