As of yesterday, summer has officially begun! We welcome the season of “fun-in-the-sun” by pulling out the grill, inflating the pool rafts, and anticipating the family vacation.

Unfortunately, there is a less-than-sunny side to summer as well. This is the season that teenage drivers hit the roadways in dramatic numbers. Automobile accidents are the leading cause of death for US teens, and according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day is the deadliest for drivers ages 15-20.

For most kids, every day in the summer is a weekend day – school is out, curfews are relaxed, summer parties are plenty and parental supervision is at a minimum, usually with one or both parents working. Teenagers covet their independence, however, with this sought-after independence comes a huge amount of responsibility.

Parents of young drivers need to be more engaged than ever before in their child’s life. Although the infamous and usually painful “teen years” seem to contradict this, parents ARE role models for their teenagers. Mom and Dad must set an example and educate their kids on the dangers and consequences of reckless driving. According to a recent study by the National Institutes of Health, parental involvement and adhered to restrictions significantly reduce risky driving behavior during a driver’s critical first 12 – 18 months behind the wheel.

Summer is a laid-back time to kick back and relax. Mom and Dad can lay in the hammock or relax by the pool, but when it comes to the teenage drivers in the household, there is no time for relaxing the rules or unfortunately, the worry.

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