According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for teens in the U.S. It’s a horrifying statistic for all parents. And with school out for summer, many teen drivers are ready to embrace their freedom. Spending more time behind the wheel or as a passenger in a friend’s car, particularly during this season of increased motor vehicle crashes, puts teens in more danger than any other time.
Teen Drivers: Can You Minimize Risk?
Here’s the good news! There are ways to lower your child’s risk when behind the wheel. Here are 5 tips for keeping your teen driver safer on the road.
1. Set clear rules
It may not be the most fun conversation to have with your teen driver, but setting clear rules is a safety basic that can help save their lives. Consider implementing a driving curfew, limiting the number of passengers permitted in the car, or specifying safe areas where your teen can drive. Whatever guidelines you think are best, discuss them in advance and write up a driving contract to seal the deal.
2. Opt for a sensible vehicle
Your teen may have their dream car all picked out, but safety needs to be a priority when choosing the car your teen will drive, especially when they’re a brand new driver. Consider opting for something that sits close to the ground (to minimize rollover risk) and something that isn’t overly powerful. Also make sure the car is equipped with air bags, electronic stability control and automatic breaking systems.
3. Limit after-dark excursions
Although fatal crashes are more likely to occur at night for all ages, teen drivers are at an even higher risk. Combinations of distractions from passengers, driver fatigue, decreased visibility, inexperience, and drug and/or alcohol use are most often to blame. Consider setting a reasonable driving curfew for your teen, limiting their after-dark excursions unless they are absolutely necessary.
4. Limit passengers
Sharing the joy of driving with their friends is probably half the fun for your teen, but it can also be a safety risk. Having passengers in the car can be very distracting for young drivers because their peers can often turn a drive from school to home into a social event. Discuss these concerns with your teen driver and set some reasonable boundaries that you both can agree on including an “approved” list and number of friends they can have in their vehicle at any given time.
5. Be a good example
From the moment they’re born, our kids keep a close eye on what we say and do – even when we don’t think they can hear or see us. As parents, we’re the biggest influence on the kind of pedestrian, bicyclist, and driver your child will become. Set a positive example for your teen driver by staying completely focused on the road, putting your cell phone away when in traffic, obeying the speed limit, and limiting other distractions like eating and talking.
Do you have any driving safety tips of your own? Share with us in the comments below!