As the parent of a soon-to-be driver, it can be nerve-wracking to watch your child pull out from the driveway. After years of protecting your child from all sorts of dangers, here comes the serious task of protecting him or her as he or she hits the road. What’s more, you not only play a crucial role in your teen’s personal safety, but also the safety of other drivers and passengers.
It’s scary to imagine, but the fact is that every day approximately seven teens die in motor vehicle crashes and hundreds more are injured. With this high of a number, it’s no surprise car crashes are the second leading cause of teen deaths in the U.S.
What leads to these heartbreaking statistics? While there is no conclusive answer, it may boil down to inexperience and poor decision making. These reasons and more make it essential to lay down some straightforward rules before your teen gets behind the wheel. Here are some quick safety tips to keep the newest driver in your family heading in the right direction.
It all begins with setting a good example. Your child learns from you and your driving habits at an early age. Remember to always wear your seatbelt and to urge others to do the same. Don’t tailgate, and don’t use your phone as you drive. Talking and texting are big distractions for every motorist but are especially tempting for teens.
These tips may seem obvious, but a recent survey revealed that 48% of kids ages 12 to 17 reported being in a car when the driver was texting. You can’t expect your teen to obey the rules of the road if you or other family members openly violate them.
Another tip is to establish well-defined expectations and boundaries. Make it clear that there will be no drinking, drugs, speeding or driving drowsy. Follow up with set punishments for breaking these rules. Remind your teen that driving is a privilege; the keys can be taken away if there is bad behavior.
A breakdown of fatal accidents involving distracted drivers uncovered that 12% of the drivers were between 15 and 19. Distractions aren’t just from phones and devices — although 56% of teens admit to talking on cell phones while driving. Passengers can also be major distractions. It’s important to restrict the number of passengers in the car with your teen. A last word of advice is to also limit driving times. A significant percentage of car accidents involving teenagers happen on the weekends and at night.
By setting limits and emphasizing the consequences of bad driving habits, you can work to keep your teen driver safe. However, it’s equally important to provide ample opportunities to improve. Give your teen time to practice by running errands, driving at night and in certain weather conditions together. Encourage open communication and remember to be as patient as possible as your teenager tackles this momentous milestone.
For additional tips on keeping your teen driver safe, please see the accompanying resource.