When it comes to teen drivers, government can only do so much.
No matter how much parents plead, beg and fret about finding a way to get out of training, or even allowing their teenage children to get behind the wheel, it is going to happen.
And summer time is the deadliest time for teen drivers.
According to the Utah Safety Council, a teen driver is involved in an accident every 47 seconds. Even though teen drivers account for only 7 percent of the drivers on the road, they account for 22 percent of the accidents.
In partnership with lawmakers, parents can make it as safe as possible for teen drivers and those who share the roads with them.
In the last 10 years, Utah has passed a number of laws that help teens ease into driving and avoid some of the distractions that can contribute to accidents.
The number of hours of driver training has been increased before a teen can get a license; night driving is limited for beginners; only family members can ride with a new driver; and every driver has to wear seatbelts and refrain from using cell phones while driving.
Even though these laws are on the books, parents are the enforcers.
“There are still some parents out there who assume once a kid gets through their driver’s education course, they can just hand them the keys and all is well. But that’s not so,” said Robert Parenti, president of the Utah Safety Council.
Parents need to make sure new teen drivers have the proper supervision as they adjust to driving, particularly during the summer.
But there is help available.
The safety council offers “Alive at 25,” a driving improvement program for ages 15-24. It also offers an online program for parents of teen drivers at www.utahsafetycouncil.org.
Parental tips are also available from AAA at www.aaa.com/teensdrive.
There is no place for just tossing the kids the keys and hoping for the best.