As parents, we try as hard as we can to protect our children. Whether it’s a helmet to go with that new bike, mittens to keep their hands warm, or paying for all those swimming lessons, we take every step possible to ensure our children are prepared and safe. So what happens when it’s time to hand the keys over to your newly licensed teen?
Here are some tips for parents to keep in mind before letting your teen behind the wheel.
Know the Risks.
It’s certainly no secret. Teen drivers have the highest fatal crash risk of any age group on the road. Even more frightening, per miles traveled, teen drivers have the highest involvement rates in all types of accidents, from property damage to fatal crashes. The biggest risk factors? Driver error, speeding, and number of teen passengers in the vehicle. Be familiar with these risks, and make sure your teen is too. Are they aware of the responsibility they have to keep themselves safe as well as their fellow drivers? Make sure they understand!
Be Afraid of the Dark
The majority of nighttime fatal crashes among teen drivers occur between 9pm and midnight. Minimize the risk by restricting driving after 9pm. Night driving requires not only more concentration, but more skill, something that young drivers don’t often have. More often than not, nighttime outings are for purely recreational reasons. Even the best and most responsible teen drivers let their judgement lapse during late night trips.
Let’s face it. Teens are often super distracted. Now add a friend or two while they are behind the wheel and you have got yourself a recipe for disaster. According to American Automobile Association, the fatality risk among teen drivers:
- Increases 44% when carrying one teen passenger, under the age of 21.
- Doubles when there are two teen passengers/
- Quadruples when three or more teen passengers are present!
Restrict the amount of teen passengers riding with your teen driver. Discourage trips with friends, especially at night.
While your teen is sure to buckle up when they are in the vehicle with you, don’t assume that they do when you aren’t there! Insist that your teen wears a safety belt at all times, even if they are driving down the street. Most car accidents occur within 5-10 miles of your home! Make sure they understand that they could get a ticket without their seatbelts, as police officers are cracking down. Tell them to demand their passengers buckle up, too! Don’t forget to be a role model! Wear your seatbelt every time you enter a vehicle.
21 Means 21
While the legal age for consuming and purchasing alcohol is 21 years of age, don’t assume that is going to discourage your teen for drinking. This fact is especially worrisome for teens with licenses. Make it clear that it is illegal and highly dangerous to drink while “buzzed” or intoxicated. It may be helpful to have an agreement with your teen that if they find themselves out and unable to drive, they may contact you for a safe ride home, no questions asked.
Remember, encourage safe driving habits in your teen. Just because you can’t drive them anymore, doesn’t mean you can’t do your part to keep them safe.