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NJ parents explain why teens driving worry them more than sex or drugs

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A new survey finds parents in New Jersey and across the country worry more about their teens driving than anything else — including drug use and sex.

The Harris Poll survey, commissioned by Chevrolet, finds 55 percent of parents with teens worry about their child driving. Drugs and alcohol worried 52 percent or parents most, while sexual activity worried 49 percent and academic performance worried 53 percent.

Parents explained to New Jersey 101.5 why they’re so worried about their kids getting behind the wheel.

“Driving is dangerous and they can drink or drive, or get in cars with people who drink and drive, so that’s why I think it’s a big worry,” said Skillman resident Rene Brana.

Angel Arcy, of Trenton, said “we’re parents, we’re not always ready to let go. My daughter is turning 21 and I still don’t let her drive. People just get impatient, there’s road rage, people cutting you off — it makes me nervous.”

“I’m worried that when my daughter is driving she is overexcited and more overconfident. We are worried that something might happen,” said Padmaja Rayadurgam, of Hamilton.

Mairin Bellack, spokeswoman for the state Motor Vehicle Commission, said the fact that many parents worry about their children driving is understandable.

“We have a justdrive.com program, it’s a public awareness campaign throughout the state that MVC leads, to educate young drivers about the dangers of texting and talking on the phone while driving,” she said. “We’ve been out at baseball games, football games, at schools, we’re on billboards, continuing to educate students about this throughout the year.”

She added the MVC has a parents guide “that we distribute throughout all our offices and in schools to help remind new drivers the importance of scanning the road in front of you, taking better care of your car and the importance of sharing the car keys with your parents.”

Bruce Sherello from Lawrenceville, said “there’s too much going on today, too many distractions: texting, Pokemon, all that stuff. Distracted driving is probably the biggest worry of parents.”

He added that “kids are young and they’re impulsive and when they drive they are more nervous drivers, so that’s another consideration.”

Leslie Brittin, of South Brunswick, said whenever her teen daughter drives, she gets a bit worried.

“It’s hard to drive in New Jersey. There’s a lot of traffic, we live in a crowded area, people are texting all the time distracted,” she said.

Pam Kelp, of Trenton, worries about the inexperience factor.

“There’s lots of accidents, deadly accidents. It’s people on the roads and a lot of kids are doing drugs, so that doesn’t help,” she said.

Pauline Weeden, from Hamilton, said she and other parents worry because a lot of teens are using alcohol and drugs.

“They’re at parties, they leave and they’re not responsible. Driving is a big responsibility, you don’t realize that until you’re older, you get your license and it’s exciting, but it doesn’t really sink in how big a responsibility it is.”

Contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com.

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