Let’s talk about teen drivers. Every parent struggles to watch their child grow older and more independent and reaching driving age is a major part of this. It feels like one day you’re tucking them into bed and the next day you’re handing them the keys to the family car. This can be a scary transition for any parent. We’re all aware of the potential for danger on the road, and teen drivers don’t always have a great track record.
There are steps you can take as a parent to make this transition much easier and much safer. It starts with how you teach them to drive. When they first get their learner’s permit, you have a year to instill lifelong safe driving practices in them. It’s important that you take advantage of this.
The Dangers of Teen Driving
One of the reasons the thought of your teen driving can be frightening is that you remember how you were at that age. Teenagers are still in the process of maturing and their brain development will continue for several years to come. Teens are often much less likely to consider the risks of their actions, and this can have devastating consequences on the road.
- In 2017, 3,255 teen drivers were involved in fatal crashes
- Automobile crashes are the leading cause of teen deaths in our country.
No teenager should lose their life early due to preventable circumstances. Yet we see this happen in alarming numbers every year. Teenagers lose their lives in car accidents from a deadly trifecta.
- Distracted Driving
- Driving While Under the Influence
When you look at the statistics, they’re a little grim. Smart phones have changed the driving landscape, and teenagers are much more likely than the average driver to use their phone while behind the wheel. Combine this with their propensity for speed, and you’ve got an accident waiting to happen. In 2016, almost 1 in 5 teens killed in a collision had been drinking. Clearly, something needs to be done.
Safe Driving Saves Lives
You can’t always be in the car with your teen, and you can’t shelter them from every possible danger. You can set them up with lifelong good driving habits, and that’s enough to save lives. Here are some tips you can teach your teens that will make them much safer on the road.
- Be a Good Role Model
Defensive driving starts with you. If you aren’t demonstrating safe driving to your teens, you can’t expect them to pick it up on their own.
- Keep the Distractions Far Away
There is a time and place for smart phones, and it isn’t behind the wheel of a vehicle. Teach your teens that it can wait. There is nothing more important than arriving alive. When your teen is behind the wheel, there phone needs to be out of view.
- Know the Rules of the Road
Before your teen hits the road on their own, make sure they have a comprehensive understanding of the rules of the road. Simple things like knowing when you have the right-of-way can be the difference between a safe trip and serious consequences.
- Click It or Ticket
Seat belts are not optional. It’s the law. Fastening your seat belt only takes a couple of seconds and in an accident, it’s the difference between bumps and bruises and tragedy. Show your teen the statistics. It’s important that they know how serious and how simple buckling up is.
- Keep a Safe Speed
There are speed limits for a reason. The reality is, driving 10 miles over the speed limit will shave off a couple of minutes at most. However, in an accident, that extra speed can have deadly consequences. It’s better to be late than severely injured. Teach your teens to have a light foot on the pedal.
Keep Your Family Safe
It’s never too early to teach your kids about safe driving. You should be demonstrating what safe, defensive driving looks like years before your child will be behind the wheel. Communication is key, and you need to start an open dialogue with your child as early as possible. Don’t just tell them to be safe, tell them how they can be safe and why it’s so important. It may not be easy, but it will save lives.