With school back in session this month, the roads will be busy with both parent and teenage drivers. For those parents with teenagers getting behind the wheel, and some for the first time, this is the perfect time of the year to discuss your expectations and the responsibilities that go along with driving, to set boundaries and relay consequences of violating them, and to remind your teen of some simple yet crucial rules of the road.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, automobile crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens. Six teens ages 16 to 19 die every day from motor vehicle injuries. Per mile driven, teen drivers ages 16 to 19 are nearly three times more likely than drivers aged 20 and older to be in a fatal crash.
Below are several helpful points to cover in a discussion with your teen driver. After discussing these points and your expectations, it’s a good idea to post these in a visible spot in your house and occasionally revisit the discussion.
- Avoid Distractions – Cell phone use, loud music, eating or having too many passengers in the car at one time could lead to fatal results. Set a good example of avoiding distractions yourself and demonstrate how to handle distractions if they were to arise while driving. For example, if you receive a text, point out that you will check the text when you arrive at your destination or pull over.
- Slow Down – Pay close attention and slow down in sloppy weather, school zones, pedestrian walkways and congested areas like narrow neighborhood streets with street-side parking. Teens are more likely to have risky driving behaviors such as speeding, not using proper signals or following too close.
- Buckle Up – Buckling up truly does save lives. Whether your teen is the driver or the passenger, make buckling up a habit and an expectation for your family.
- Passenger Limits – It’s important to know who and how many passengers are riding with your teen at any given time. Setting a limit on how many passengers can ride with your teen, particularly within the first six months to a year of driving, can cut down on distractions and the risk of a fatality.
- Keep Practicing – Stress how beneficial it is to keep practicing the skills of driving long after passing the required driving tests. According to the CDC, the risks of automobile accidents are higher during the first year of driving. Therefore, inexperience plays a large factor in the number of automobile accidents each year. The CDC suggests to ride along with your teen for at least 30-50 hours per month. Watch closely and make suggestions on how they can improve. Practice at different times of the day, in different kinds of weather, and in heavy and light traffic.