According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Tennessee ranks among the worst states in the country for teen car deaths. Riding with inexperienced drivers, being distracted, speeding and drinking while driving are many reasons our state has one of the worst rankings in the nation. "When parents supervise their teens' behind-the-wheel behavior, teens tend to be much more responsible," says Rose McMurray, associate administrator for traffic safety programs at the NHTSA.

Parents can have a positive influence of their teen’s driving behavior by communicating and discussing the following points:

•Be a good role model. Always wear your seatbelt, never use your cell phone while driving, and don't be an aggressive driver. Talk with your teen about your own driving.

•Insist your teen wear a seatbelt. Statistics show that 50 percent of all teens who died in car crashes last year were not wearing them.

•Remind your teen that a car can be a weapon and driving is a privilege, not a right. A car can kill someone. If it's not being used responsibly, it should be taken away.

•Restrict night and weekend driving. It is estimated that teens crash more often after 11 p.m. on weekdays and after midnight on weekends.

•Make sure your teen knows that it's OK to call you if he or she's in trouble and needs a ride home. Tell your child that you won't be angry or upset, no matter what.

•Drive with your teen occasionally. You'll get a firsthand view of his or her weaknesses behind the wheel.

•Talk to your teen about car insurance. Since most teens don't pay their own car-insurance bills, they don't realize that the bills escalate with each driving infraction.

•Restrict the number of passengers in your teen's car. Remember that the more friends your teen is carrying, the greater the risk of an accident.

•Be prepared to take away the keys. Not every teen is ready for the responsibility of driving.

•It's up to a parent to know when to say no.

•Limit teens' driving during peak accident season, which begins in June, when your teen gets out of school, and runs through Labor Day weekend.

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