Teens are new, excited drivers, ready to get out and hit the open road with their friends. They’ve reached a new level of independence, and due to the amount of activities your teen may be involved in, you might be ready to hand over the keys and bask in some of your own newfound free time! However, before your teen gets behind the wheel, it’s important to promote safe teen driving by establishing some ground rules.
Promoting Safe Teen Driving
According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, motor vehicle crashes are the number one cause of death among 15 to 20 year olds in the United States. Two out of three of those deaths are teens who were simply passengers in a car driven by one of their peers. This is why it’s so critical to set the standard for safe driving early on. Teaching your teen safe driving habits isn’t just good parenting; it can actually save the life of your child and others on the road.
Keep your inexperienced teen driver safe by setting some ground rules as soon as he or she becomes a licensed driver:
Practice what you preach: Teens will be influenced over the course of their lifetimes by observing how their parents drive. When your teen is in the car with you, it’s important to drive safely and with courtesy so they model their own driving habits after yours.
Restrict the number of passengers allowed in the car: Your teen will probably want to head right out and pick up a group of friends for a joyride, but passengers can be a major distraction. Until your teen has more experience driving, limit the number of friends allowed in the car at any time. In many states, teen drivers are limited on the number passengers they are allowed to have in the vehicle until they turn eighteen.
Avoid night time driving: Driving at night can present more risks for all drivers, but especially to teens. In fact, the number of fatal crashes for teens at night is almost double of those that occur during daytime hours. Talk to your teen about having a “car curfew”, especially during the first few months of solo driving.
Talk about the danger of driving under the influence: Even though teens can’t buy or possess alcohol legally, the NHTSA states that one-fourth of teen deaths from car crashes were due to the driver being under the influence. Make sure your teen knows that if for some reason they have been drinking, they should call you or another trusted adult for a ride.
Insist everyone buckles up: Here’s another case where you can lead by example: always buckle up when you’re driving and insist all passengers do as well. Your teen will get so used to buckling their seat belts that it should become second nature when they get behind the wheel themselves. Everyone in the car with your teen should be required to wear a seat belt at all times, too!
Let them know the consequences for breaking the rules: Set the rules for driving early and explain what the consequences will be if they are broken. Some parents even have their teens sign a contract to remind them that driving is a privilege that can easily be revoked.