Motor vehicle accidents are the number one cause of death for adolescents and per mile, teen drivers are three times more like to be involved in a fatal automobile accident than drivers over age 20. So what exactly can you do to make sure your beloved teenager is safe behind the wheel? Fairfax Auto Repair is here to help!
1) Make Sure Your Teen Understands How Road Conditions Affect Driving Ability: Teens are more likely to underestimate dangerous road conditions and hazardous driving situations than adults. Don’t leave this information up to the Driver’s Ed instructor; be sure to talk to your teen about hydroplaning, skidding, driving on ice or snow, and around work zones.
2) Stress the Seatbelt! Hopefully, you are leading by example on this one, but teens are twice as likely to drive without a seat belt than adults. Stress the importance of seatbelt wearing to your child, and explain, in detail, how seatbelts work to prevent fatality in the event of an accident. If necessary, also stress to your city or town’s seatbelt enforcement program, and let them know that not wearing a seatbelt while driving can cause them to lose their license.
3) Enforce the GDL (graduated driver’s license) Laws: Most states have switched to a graduating licensing program for teen drivers that allow them to practice driving and getting road experience under low risk conditions. Your child’s first driver’s license may have certain restrictions, such as a curfew, or not allowing non-familial passengers in the vehicle. It’s important that as a parent, you enforce these laws as these programs have contributed to a 40% reduction in overall teen driving accidents.
4) Ride with Your Teen: Just because your teenager is legally able to drive without you in the car, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ride with them, to observe their driving habits and style. Allowing your teen to drive when you’re running errands, or taking them somewhere, increases their confidence in their driving ability, and allows you to give them driving tips they may have missed during their theoretical instruction. Remain calm, and do not yell or grab the wheel unless under extreme circumstances.
5) Zero Alcohol Tolerance: Do Not! I repeat, DO NOT, allow your teen to drink and drive. Alcohol related accidents are the number one cause of teen driving fatalities. While as an adult, you may be able to metabolize alcohol in a way that allows you to drive safely; the teenage body is not structured that way. Set up a system that will allow your teen to contact someone, without fear of immediate persecution in the event that they have been drinking and need to get home.
6) No Cell Phone While Driving! This is another point that calls the parent to be the example. Cell phone use while driving has caused a number of accidents in all age groups, with the highest percentage in adolescent category. Make sure your teen understands the rules about not texting while driving, and using a hands free device for short, brief calls. Explain to your teen how this and other distractions such as their iPod, friends, eating, and the radio can all affect their timing and reflexes.
One thing that we’ve all learned about driving over the years is that it takes more road experience to become a better, safer, more comfortable driver. While this information may not make parents of teenage drivers feel better, hopefully our list of tips and pointers can help your child understand how to have a safe relationship with their newfound freedom.