Help Your Teen Be a Safer Driver
As we head into summer, that usually means one thing: an increase in teen drivers on the road. Not only are they out of school, but a lot of teens are just now learning to drive. While the thought of being on the road with untrained drivers can be a little scary, there’s a lot a parent or guardian can do to help their teen be a safe driver.
Once you have a kid, you spend their whole life trying to protect them and keep them safe. Then their teenage years come around and before long you’re handing them the keys to the family car. You cross your fingers – and maybe your toes too – and hope beyond hope that they’ll keep safety as their number one priority.
If this sounds like you, you’re not alone. According to the CDC, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens.
That means, there’s a big reason to be nervous.
But just like you can’t stop your teens from growing, you also can’t stop them from becoming an adult, and part of that growing process means learning how to drive.
Tips to Help Teens Avoid Accidents and Be Safe Drivers
We’re helping you overcome your fears so you can give your teen the best possible chance to be a safe driver on the road. These tips can help keep not only your teen, but other drivers safe as well.
Involve Yourself in Your Teen’s Driving
Riding along with your teen while they’re driving should be a normal practice. It’s one of the only ways to be sure that they are being safe.
Lead by Example
Learned behavior begins at home. If your teen sees you speeding, driving recklessly, or having fits of road rage, they are more likely to follow your behavior. If they see you being safe and responsible, they are more likely to mimic that too. Always remember they are watching you, so be a good role model for them to follow.
Make Restrictions and Punishments Known and Enforce Them
Discuss consequences with your teen for unsafe driving behavior. Let them know exactly what they can expect should they disobey your rules or the legal rules of the road. Also keep in mind that things like speeding tickets risk lives and are expensive.
If and when your teen breaks the rules, follow through with the punishments. Just one “pass” will certainly give them freedom to do it again. But it only takes one mistake to cause an accident.
Follow Graduated Driver Licensing Systems
Most, if not all states enforce Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) laws. These are laws put in place to restrict driving privileges during certain age groups. Although they vary by state, examples might include limits to the number of passengers allowed, restrictions on driving at night, cell phone usage while driving, and requirements for taking driver education programs.
These programs give much needed skill-building and driving supervision. Review the laws in your state with your teen and decide if you need to enforce even stricter standards for them to follow.
Restrict Night Driving
If your state’s GDL laws don’t already, consider restricting your teen’s driving to only during the day. At night, a 16 year old’s fatal crash rate is nearly twice as high.
Limit or Restrict Teen Passengers
Studies show significantly higher amounts of accidents when teens are driving with at least one other teen passenger. Just think about how distracted teens are around each other in general. Now imagine one of them trying to drive a vehicle safely. If your state’s GDL laws don’t restrict passengers, you might want to consider making this an enforceable rule in your household.
Roadside Assistance and Basic Maintenance
As with any new toy or gadget, a teen can help prove their responsibility by how well they take care of their possessions. A car should be no different, even if it is a shared family car. Teach your teen to keep your car clean.
They should also know how to get roadside assistance and the steps to take if in an accident. Teach some basic maintenance like how to change a flat tire and even how to change the oil, air filter, windshield wipers, and of course, how to get gas!
All of these things can give your teen a greater appreciation for your vehicle because they are involved in taking care of it.
Stay Aware and Teach Awareness
After your teen has been driving for a short while, you might feel at ease and let go of some of the supervision and restrictions you first implemented. But don’t be too easily fooled.
You won’t be the only one who becomes complacent after a few weeks or months of driving. Your teen may too, thinking that they have already mastered this driving thing. The extra caution they practiced in the beginning may give way to a relaxed attitude towards driving and this could lead to increased danger on the road.
You can help prevent this by staying aware of your teen’s driving behaviors, checking in with them regularly on their comfort level, and being sure to keep those restrictions in place.
Help Your Teen Learn about Driving Safety and Getting Auto Insurance
Teaching your kids about the cost of driving safely will help prepare them for the future, when they will be paying for this themselves.
Consider taking your teen with you or having them on the call to add them to your auto insurance policy, so they get first-hand experience doing this.
It might also be helpful for them to see just how expensive accidents can be. Even with the best insurance, an accident is a hassle that no one wants to go through. Think about doing some research with them so they can see the average cost of an auto accident.