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David Mittleman
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Protect Your Teenage Driver With a "Newly Licensed Driver" Sign

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Are you nervous about your new teenage driver hitting the streets in the family car? Susan Kessler may have the answer to solving some of your worries: put a temporary warning sign on the car.

Kessler, a mother of six, has created magnetic signs for parents to attach to the car’s sheet metal that display the words “Caution Newly Licensed”. While teenagers may be more than slightly embarrassed of what their peers might think of the “embarrassing sign”, more than 15,000 people have ordered the signs since Kessler and a group of moms introduced them four years ago.

Kessler first came up with the idea when her son, Donnie, was coming of driving age. Atlanta, near where Kessler’s family lives, ranks as one of the most congested cities in the country. As a mother, Kessler was beginning to have nightmares about her son driving. However, with the sign, she hoped that it would give other drivers enough warning to “watch out” and create a “protective bubble” around new teenage drivers. Her goal is simple: limit teenagers’ damage to themselves and to others. She has the right idea: according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, drivers 16-19 years old are four times more likely as older drivers to end up in a collision.

Current research has shown that putting restrictions on young drivers does pay off in lower accident, injury, and fatality rates. One study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that states with strong licensing laws had 30% fewer fatalities for 15-17 year olds in comparison with states that had weaker laws. Kessler would like to see the signs be a requirement for new drivers—an approach already used in parts of Europe. However, she has yet to reach success in this arena. Nevertheless, Kessler continues to promote her magnetic “warning” signs on her website and on shows such as Fox & Friends. She is even looking for a national retail outlet to handle them.