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Now is dangerous time for teen drivers

With April, May and June combining for the highest percentage of unbelted teen deaths during the past three years, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) Office of Traffic Safety is urging parents of to reinforce safe driving habits for their children during prom season and the end of the school year.

There were 30 teen motor vehicle occupant deaths in April, May and June during the past three years, and 63 percent (19) of those killed were not buckled up.

"The prom and end of the school year season is an exciting time for teenagers, but it also has proven to be a dangerous period on the road," says Gordy Pehrson, DPS Office of Traffic Safety youth programs coordinator. "Contributing to the tragedies is a high percentage of teens who were not buckled up."

Unbelted Teen Vehicle Occupant Deaths (ages 13-19) by Season, 2010-2012

• Jan., Feb., March: 24 deaths, seven unbelted.

• April, May, June: 30 deaths, 19 unbelted.

• July, Aug., Sept.: 32 deaths, 13 unbelted

• Oct., Nov., Dec.: 17, seven unbelted.

The deadliest months for teen motorists during this year-set are July (14); April (13); May and January (10 each).

Traffic Crashes: The Leading Killer of Minnesota Teens

Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for Minnesota teens. In the past three years (2010-2012), 103 teen motorists (13-19 years old) were killed in traffic crashes -- only 45 (44%) were belted.

"Poor seat belt use, along with driver inexperience, risk-taking and distractions, are the key factors that make traffic crashes the leading cause of death for teens," says Pehrson. "It's imperative that parents and caregivers take the time to talk with their teens about the importance of seat belt use, reinforce teen driving laws, and set their own family driving rules."

Guide for Parents to Establish Safer Teen Drivers

• Provide significant supervised driving training and continue to do so even after licensure--the first year of driving poses the greatest risk of a crash.

• Train teen on a variety of road types (urban, rural) and in different conditions (night, rain, snow).

• Talk with teen to reinforce laws and set limits (such as passenger limitations, nighttime driving) -- and use a driving contract between parent and teen to set rules.

• Encourage teen to speak up when they feel unsafe in a vehicle to stop unsafe driving behaviors.

• A "withdrawal of parental consent form" is available for parents to cancel their teen's driving privileges (under age 18).

Find resources including a driver's skills checklist, a parent-teen contract, teen driver laws and the parent withdrawal form online at, click on "Teen Driving," found under "Traffic Topics."

Parents, grandparents and other caregivers should also know: Where their teen is going; who they'll be with; and when they are expected to be home. Parents should also make themselves available to pick up their children at any time or location.

About the Minnesota Department Public Safety

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) comprises 11 divisions where 2,100 employees operate programs in the areas of law enforcement, crime victim assistance, traffic safety, alcohol and gambling, emergency communications, fire safety, pipeline safety, driver licensing, vehicle registration and emergency management. DPS activity is anchored by three core principles: education, enforcement and prevention.