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Toyota expands efforts to instill safer teen driving

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In 2004, Toyota launched their first effort to promote safe driving among teenage drivers, simply because the first year a young person drives is statistically the most dangerous they will ever encounter.

According to The National Safety Council, automobile collisions are still the number one source of teen fatalities despite the fact automobiles today are safer than ever before.

Over the last decade, Toyota has developed several ways to help bring parents and teen drivers to a meaningful understanding of what driving entails, what behaviors should be encouraged and what activities should be avoided with extreme prejudice.

TeenDrive365.com brings all of this information and the continuing efforts of the automaker together in one place where parent and teens can both visit, hopefully beginning a meaningful conversation about the responsibilities inherent as one gets behind the wheel.

Far from dull and drab, the site has aspects designed to bring young adolescents and their loving parents to a more equitable level for discussion – helping to take the hysterics out a subject obviously stressful for the parent of any teenage driver-to-be.

“There is a quiz on the site to see if parents or teens know more about safe driving habits and it will be totaled up on Facebook to see who comes out on top,” stated Tina Sayer, a principal engineer at Toyota’s Collaborative Safety Research Center. The site has a three-pronged focus: a schedule of TeenDrive365 events around the country, the quiz for parents and teen drivers and a Toyota Mutual Driving Agreement to see parents and teens are on the same page when it comes to safe driving.

“What it actually is supposed to be is the chance for a parent and teen to set down the ground rules about driving and it’s not just about the teen’s driving, but also about the parent’s,” continued Sayer. “It goes over substance abuse and driving under the influence or getting in with somebody who has been drinking – it has instructions on that and covers not being distracted by passengers.”

The agreement also touches on internal distractions such as not driving when drowsy, angry or emotionally upset. It is something both the parent and the teen agree to help each other with. Parental involvement is paramount, as is providing a positive example – teens are not going to avoid the same distractive behaviors they see their parent committing.

“Parents really need to stay involved in a teens driving experience, so one of the things we recommend is parents stay involved even after a teen driver gets the second license,” added Sayer.

For example, are they still wearing a seatbelt when you’re not with them? Parents need to not only set consequences for the teen when they exhibit bad behavior, but also stipulate penance for themselves if the teen catches them practicing the faults they are preaching about.

In addition there are safety tips, videos and other resources available as well.

The traveling Toyota Events follow the Auto Show circuit to some degree and bring a simulator that emphasizes how quickly things can go wrong when a driver is distracted – in complete safety, however.

The Toyota TeenDrive365 event will come to Denver during the Denver Auto Show April 9 to 13, 2014. Safety minded teens and parents should make a point to be there.

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