Now, 4 1/2 years and two accidents later, Hospital is a junior in college. Though she says the accidents were not her fault, she says they taught her that drivers' decisions can have real consequences. "The main problem is when you're 16, you don't have these experiences, so you kind of wing it," she says now. Persinger, too, says she is a much safer driver today.
How's My Driving?
One thing parents can do to monitor their teens' driving is slap a "How's My Driving?" sticker on their child's car, similar to the stickers on commercial trucks. Several companies provide such stickers, along with a toll-free number road users can call to report on a teen's driving. The companies relay the reports back to the teen's parents.
After Anne Rekerdres, a 16-year-old from Dallas, got a speeding ticket recently, her father Randy signed up with Tell-My-Mom.com, one of the companies that provides a toll-free reporting line, and put a sticker on her car. Rekerdres says it was "kind of embarrassing" when her parents put one of the stickers on her car. "It does kind of make it seem like my parents don't trust me," she says.
The most popular response to teen driving has been at the state level, with something known as graduated licensing. Pioneered by Michigan in 1996, graduated licensing is a system in which young drivers start out with restrictions such as having to drive with an older driver present, not being allowed to drive at night, and not being allowed to drive with other teenagers in the car. The restrictions are gradually lifted as a teen gains driving experience, provided they have no accidents or tickets.
All but three states have now adopted some form of graduated licensing.