To a teen driver, the road is an endless opportunity to nourish their independence; to a teen parent, the road is an endless opportunity for collisions. We love to see our teens spread their wings and venture onto the road but doing so safely is key. Below are a few major things you can do to keep them safe behind the wheel:
Be a Good Role Model
You know what they say, monkey see monkey do. Children learn from their experiences; riding as a passenger in your car is one they are very familiar with. Try your best to set a good example of how you want your child to drive before they take the wheel.
If you speed, eat or use the phone while driving, then don’t be surprised when your teen engages in these activities too. By taking an active role and setting the right example while driving, you can decrease the chances of your teen becoming a risky driver.
Talk about safe driving habits with your child when they are young and you are still a primary influence in their life. Remind them of the benefits of wearing a seatbelt, driving the speed limit and obeying traffic laws.
Choose a Safe Vehicle
Consider the type of vehicle you might provide your teen for utmost protection. Would your teenage boy have a heyday with a sporty car? Probably. Is that beetle your teenage girl has been begging for the safest option for her? Probably not.
Technology and safety have come a long way over the years, offering various vehicle features to decrease the chances/severity of a collision. Some features you may be interested in for your teen include side airbags, electronic stability control, automatic breaking systems (ABS), lane departure detection, blind spot detection and many more.
Manage Distractions & Dangers
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) teens ages 16 – 19 years-old are 3X more likely to be involved in a fatal car crash than any other age group. Car crashes are the number one killer of teens in the U.S. Before your teen takes the wheel, discuss these distractions with them in grave detail:
- Texting & Driving – Texting and driving is one of the greatest dangers to your teen, even if it’s done while they are stopped at a red light or stop sign. In many states texting while driving is illegal, so be sure to check your local laws to help reinforce this to your teen driver.
Monitor your teens texting habits and make safety a priority by revoking phone privileges, car privileges or both. Consider implementing a Safe Driving app on their phone, such as LifeSaver.
- Passengers – Teens may think driving their friends around is harmless, but the risks are real. The risk of a teen driver being in a fatal car accident doubles when carrying two or more passengers under 21; the risk of a teen driver being in a fatal car accident quadruples when carrying three or more passengers.
Many states have laws in place that limit the number of passengers a teen driver can carry, so be sure to look into them before handing over the keys. Limit the number of passengers you allow your teen driver to have in their vehicle. Also, help your teen understand that when they are the driver they are the boss. All other passengers need to be respectful of what is asked of them or else they will no longer be offered a ride.
- Impaired Driving – In 2015, twenty percent of 15 – 19 year old drivers involved in deadly car accidents had been drinking alcohol despite the fact that they were too young to legally purchase it. Ensure they know that drinking or driving under the influence of drugs is prohibited.
- Nighttime Driving – Driving at night comes with an increased risk of being involved in a collision due to reduced visibility, fatigue and drinking drivers on the road. Legally, teens with a level 2 license cannot drive from midnight to 5:00AM.
- Reckless Driving – Make sure your teen is well aware that speeding is breaking a law and reckless driving will get them pulled over.
Before you let your teen driver take the wheel, consider a written Parent-Teen Driving Agreement in which you spell out the rules and consequences that come along with their ability to drive.