Four steps to protect teen drivers

April 19, 2010 3:24:08 AM PDT
It can be a very nerve-wracking time for parents of teenage drivers. Helping keep them safe behind the wheel may start with a strict set of rules. The sad truth is that 40 percent of teens get in an accident within a year of getting their licenses. Those crashes cause one in three teen deaths.

There are, however, some steps that parents can take to help protect their children.

"A first key step is about setting limits for when and where your teen can drive," said Janet Siroto, an editor with "Good Housekeeping" magazine.

And it's not just about setting rules for teens. They have to be enforced. Parents should also establish a 9 p.m. curfew.

"Your teen should not be on the road after 9 p.m.," Siroto said. "It's much more dangerous to be driving when it's dark out."

Parents should also limit the hours teens can drive, and closely watch them for the first 1,500 miles they are behind the wheel.

The fourth step is probably the most crucial - no cell phones while driving. And turn the music off, too.

"So make sure than when your teen is behind the wheel, she is not listening to her iPod, her cell phone is turned off," Siroto said. "That will definitely keep her safe."

That last tip is actually good advice for drivers of any age.