car accidentA new iniative from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is aimed at giving parents the tools they need to speak effectively to their teen about safe driving.

With motor vehicle crashes the #1 killer of U.S. teens (2011 saw 2,015 teen traffic accident fatalities), the agency is urging parents to spell out some rules before they hand over the keys to a car.

The “5 to Drive” rules:

1. No Cell Phones While Driving - Teens texting or dialing while driving are proving to have deadly consequences. In 2011, 270 people were killed in crashes involving distracted teen drivers. REMEMBER, One Text or Call Could Wreck It All.
2. No Extra Passengers - Research shows that the risk of a fatal crash goes up in direct relation to the number of teens in the car. The likelihood of teen drivers engaging in risky behavior when traveling with multiple passengers increased to three times. REMEMBER: No extra passengers in the car.
3. No Speeding - In 2011, speeding was a factor for 35 percent of the fatal crashes of teen drivers. REMEMBER, Stop Speeding Before It Stops You.
4. No Alcohol - Although all States have zero-tolerance laws for drinking and driving under 21, 505 people died in crashes in which 14- to 18-year-old drivers had alcohol in their systems. Nationally in 2011, 27 percent of teen drivers killed had some level of alcohol in their systems. Parents should show zero tolerance for any sign of impaired driving. Teens need to hear it again and again: REMEMBER, No Drinking and Driving.
5. No Driving or Riding Without a Seat Belt - Teenage belt use is not what it should be. In 2011, over half of the teen occupants who died in passenger vehicles were unrestrained. Teens, and all adults for that matter, need to buckle up every trip, every time, day and night, no matter the distance. REMEMBER, Buckle Up. Every Trip. Every Time – Front-Seat and Back.

Click here to learn more about NHTSA’s “5 to Drive” campaign.