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Article posted: 11/9/2012 4:40 AM

Teach kids to be good drivers

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Nov. 8 was Parents as Teachers Day, and I encourage parents to be great teachers to their teen drivers.

Inexperience is the leading factor for teen crashes. The more experience our teen drivers have, the better drivers they become. I lost my dad in a teen driving crash, and I don't want anyone to experience the kind of pain my family has endured.

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I manage the HEARTS Network, an initiative of the National Safety Council and The Allstate Foundation that gives me a platform for sharing my story so that I can help reduce teen driving crashes. I encourage parents to ban all cellphone use -- handheld and hands-free -- set a zero passenger restriction (this includes siblings) and ban driving after 10 p.m.

While these may seem like extreme rules, distractions such as passengers and cellphone use, and nighttime driving are leading factors of teen crashes.

Coaching shouldn't stop once teens become fully-licensed. The first year is the most dangerous for new drivers, so parents must continue to ride shotgun. This helps ensure parents curb any newly-formed bad habits.

Parents may not believe it, but the No. 1 influence on teen driving behavior is their parents.

Spend time with your teens behind the wheel. Doing so can help save lives and prevent other families from suffering the same loss as mine.

Charlene Sligting

Victim Advocate

National Safety Council

HEARTS Network

Elgin

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