Driving Safety Linda Gorman

Although it certainly doesn’t feel like fall, the calendar reminds us that summer is officially over. As a result, family members of all ages may find they are spending more time in the car as they ease back into their normal routine.

With a variety of daily distractions, it’s easy to see how safety may sometimes take a backseat. As an advocate for the safety and security of the motoring public, AAA has a few tips and resources to keep drivers and passengers of all ages safer behind the wheel.

Child passengers

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children, and the proper use of a child safety restraint can reduce the risk of death by as much as 71 percent. Child Passenger Safety Week is Sept. 15–21 and serves as a reminder for parents and caregivers to always keep their children properly secured when riding in a motor vehicle.

Children younger than 2 should always ride rear-facing in a child safety seat. Once children outgrow this seat, they should transition to a forward-facing child seat until age 5. After that, kids will need to use a booster seat until they can safely ride with just an adult safety belt. Last August, a new Arizona law went into effect requiring children ages 5 to 8 or shorter than 4 feet, 9 inches to ride in a booster seat.

Data show that nearly three-fourths of seats are installed or used incorrectly, so parents also should have their safety seat inspected. AAA’s certified car seat technicians offer free inspections for AAA members.

As a reminder, the backseat is the safest place for children, especially those ages 13 and younger.

Teen drivers

Parents and teens alike often relish the freedom that comes with turning over the keys, yet many don’t realize the dangers that accompany this responsibility. Car crashes remain one of the leading causes of death for teens, and this rings especially true for their first 1,000 miles of unsupervised driving.

Parents and young drivers should familiarize themselves with the risks associated with being a new driver, including nighttime driving and driving with passengers.

With so much information, it’s easy to become overwhelmed, but AAA’s Permit Prep 101 workshop offers a good place to start. This free, 90-minute workshop provides teens and their caregivers with a road map on what they need to know, including navigating Arizona’s Graduated Driver License Law, selecting a quality driving school, and qualifying for insurance discounts.

Senior drivers

By 2020, an estimated one in four drivers will be 65 or older. While AAA believes that driving is a function of ability, not age, it cannot be denied that the aging process impacts a person’s ability to drive safely. For this reason, it is critical that older drivers maintain their driving health.

The good news is that there are several resources available to help these drivers and their families prepare for the journey ahead. For computer users, DriveSharp can help cut crash risk by up to 50 percent, while Roadwise Review measures physical and mental abilities shown to be the strongest predictors of crash risk. SeniorDriving.AAA.com is an online resource that offers information and tools designed to aid in starting conversations, assessing abilities, and improving the comfort and safety of older drivers.

For those who prefer classroom instruction, AAA’s Safe Driving for Mature Drivers, is a four-hour road rules refresher workshop that helps keeps seniors safer and may also qualify participants for a discount on their auto insurance premiums.

For more information on any of these resources, contact AAA’s community relations specialist at (602) 241-2945.

• Linda Gorman is the communications and public affairs director for AAA Arizona. Reach her at (602) 650-2716 or lgorman@arizona.aaa.com.

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