Understanding Teen Driving Policies

This article appeared in the November 2013 Colonial Crier. STUDENT SAFETY

Student safety comes first at the Fairfax Christian School. It may not always be convenient for students to ride the school bus or to be driven by a parent or a guardian, but our policies are designed to protect our students.

TRAFFIC STATISTICS

Fairfax County is a major transportation hub for Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. In 2012, our county had the most traffic fatalities of any county in Virginia– more than twice as many. Traffic congestion is a serious issue and there are at least fifteen active roadway projects which are currently affecting traffic and road conditions in Fairfax County.

Forty-four teens from ages 15 to 18 were killed in traffic accidents in Virginia in 2012; thirty-two of these victims were 17-year-old and 18-year-old males. That same year, there were 4,896 injuries from traffic accidents reported in teens ages 15 to 18; females were slightly more likely to be victims in these nonfatal accidents, representing 54% of reported injuries.

These statistics validate our concerns about teen drivers; accordingly, the Fairfax Christian School has implemented policies intended to protect our students from these risks.

FCS STUDENT DRIVER POLICY

The Fairfax Christian School allows licensed students to drive themselves to school. However, in the interest of safety, the following conditions must be met in order for a student to receive driving privileges: Students are only allowed to drive themselves– not other students.

A recently-released study by the TTI Center for Transportation Safety found that novice drivers were 31% more likely than more experienced drivers to be in a fatal accident when one or more teenage passengers were in their car. Passengers, especially friends and other social peers, frequently cause an inexperienced driver to become distracted, which significantly affects driving skills. For the safety of all our students, we do not allow anyone under the age of 21 to drive or pick-up students on campus.

All student drivers must maintain at least a “B” average and have no discipline issues. Driving privileges are not merely a reward for good behavior. Studies have consistently shown that students with higher grades are less likely to engage in risky driving behaviors. Likewise, unsafe social behavior is linked to inappropriate driving practices. The skills needed to maintain a high grade-point average and an exemplary discipline record–such as focus, attention to detail and compliance with rules–are the same skills needed to be a safe, careful driver.

Students must obtain PERMISSION from the school and leave their keys in the front office during school hours. Permission to drive to school must be explicitly granted by the administration. Once the request for permission has been accepted, the student must submit a copy of his license to the office.

Student drivers are only permitted to park their cars in the RPC parking lot, in the area furthest from the church building. To ensure that driving privileges are used appropriately, students must leave the keys to their vehicle with the school secretary during school hours.