Let’s turn teens into safe drivers

New IDOT program is designed to help achieve that goal

Learning to drive and getting that first driver’s license are especially exciting parts of maturing into an adult for most Hawkeye State teenagers. For parents it’s also a challenging transition. They are rightly concerned that being a motorist is not a danger-free undertaking. They want to make certain that their offspring becomes a skilled and cautious driver.

To help parents assist teenagers develop the skills and attitudes necessary to become safe drivers, Gov. Kim Reynolds has announced that the Iowa Department of Transportation is offering a new resource. IDOT is now participating in the well-regarded Parent Supervised Driving Program.

This initiative was developed by the Safe Roads Alliance, which since 2006 had been providing education and awareness programs for drivers of all ages. Its Parent Supervised Driving effort got underway in 2011. The alliance was able to create and implement this project in part due support from sponsors Toyota and State Farm. The program is already in use by families in just a bit more than half of the U.S. states.

“Seeing our children learn and grow into responsible citizens is a delight,” said Mark Lowe, director of IDOT, in a statement released by the governor’s office. “Those first outings with your teen behind the wheel can be the most formative for our new drivers, and a bit nerve-racking for both them and their parents. With this program, parents will have tools and tips to make the learning experience behind the wheel safer and easier, and more effective.”

The program makes available a guidebook that contains a sequence of lessons for new drivers. The focus is on honing a range of driving skills ranging from those that are quite basic to ones more advanced. The goal is to achieve a logical progression as the young driver gains confidence and masters safe driving abilities. A Parent Supervised Program guidebook is being provided to teens when they obtain an instruction permit. It is also downloadable online at the IDOT website (http://www.eregulations.com/driving/iowa/). Also available is the RoadReady mobile app for iPhone and Android. This app helps track time behind the wheel for new drivers.

The philosophy behind this worthwhile initiative is that parents are the key to turning teenagers into safe drivers. According to IDOT’s Lowe:

“The program gives parents and guardians a strategy for guiding and expanding early driving experiences that makes effective use of their critical time together, as well as builds confidence they are doing the right things to prepare their teen for safe driving.”

That makes sense to us.

The Messenger applauds the governor and IDOT for making this excellent program available to Iowans. We urge our readers to take advantage of this outstanding resource.