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Dare to Prepare Your Teens to Drive

Good and bad news often travel as a pair. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently announced the number of traffic fatalities in 2010 fell to the lowest level ever reported, which is the good news. But automobile crashes are still the leading cause of death among teen drivers .

AAA Southern New England will host a free 90-minute workshop for teens – 14 and 15 year-olds who aren't yet licensed – and their parents. "Dare to Prepare" will be held Wednesday, May 4 at 6-7:30 p.m. at the Greenwich Police Department, 11 Bruce Place, Greenwich.

The purpose of the class, according to Police Officer Ron Carosella, is to teach future drivers about safe driving practices and help them understand the nature of distracted driving, which is not limited to texting while behind the wheel. He says, “We also cover vehicle maintenance, understanding road signs and handling a car in a crisis situation.”

“It’s never too early to teach prospective drivers about how to drive well,” says Officer Carosella. He adds, “I have two kids and when they started driving it was a stressful time for my wife and me. I think if we can make kids wiser about the dangers and responsibilities of driving, they’ll be safer and their parents might rest a little easier. “

There is another component of the workshop’s discussion, says Carosella: Making sure parents understand their own responsibilities as their teen seeks a driver’s permit and then a license. As anyone who has perused the Department of Motor Vehicle website can attest, understanding the specifics of the new graduated driver licensing laws – now in effect for all Connecticut teen drivers – can be daunting.

“Our objective is to make sure everyone, parents and teens, has the same information when pursuing a graduated driver’s license,” says Fran Mayko, Dare to Prepare coordinator, who will lead the discussion with Officer Carosella.

“Getting a driver’s license is a big responsibility and we want to help parents and teens navigate the journey safely. If we can initiate conversations about safe driving practices even before driver’s education classes begin, then we can help teens drive more safely,” says Fran.

Learning to drive well doesn’t begin when a teen buckles his or her seatbelt and adjusts the rearview mirror. It starts with a solid understanding about what happens after the car begins to move.

Dare to Prepare is free but registration is required. Call Jackie Pesticci at (203) 765-4222, extension 5241. AAA Southern New England-CT is planning to conduct additional Dare to Prepare workshops in Fairfield County, and is looking for venues to host the program, which is free to AAA members and their teens. To host a workshop, call Fran Mayko at (203) 928-6509.

Do you have a pre-driving teen? Have you begun informal "driver education" classes? Please let me know here.

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