For most parents, handing over the keys to new teenage drivers can be a little scary. But, with the right preparation and education, it doesn’t have to be. That’s why it’s so important to set certain driving rules and expectations long before your teenager ever gets behind the wheel. By instilling a few vital keys of information and caution early on, you can help to reduce your child’s risk of getting into an unnecessary crash or accident.
Here are a few driving safety tips that we recommend parents share with their teenagers before handing over the keys:
Buckle Up – The first thing that you should teach your kids is to always, always buckle up! Though this safety tip is instilled in most people from very early on, even from the car seat days, parents need to remind their teenagers of this more and more as they approach driving age, as this is the age group who, whether sober or intoxicated, are most likely to not even bother with seatbelts. It’s estimated that more than 50 percent of kids aged 15 – 20 who die in car accidents weren’t wearing their seatbelts. Make sure that your teenager doesn’t become a statistic. It’s the simplest act that could mean the difference between life and death.
No Phones – These days, it’s hard to keep teenagers off of their phones, but when it comes to new drivers, it is a must! Their focus need only be on the task of driving. There should be no distractions. Set a rule that no texting, talking or even hands-free cellphone use be allowed while operating a car. It may sound harsh, but the reality is that ten percent of fatal crashes involving teenage drivers occur because of distracted driving.
Don’t Speed – Unfortunately, high-speed driving has always been a factor in nearly 50 percent of fatal teenage crashes. While this is obviously ill-advised and dangerous for anyone, new drivers don’t yet possess the road skills or decision-making capabilities to properly assess and handle excessive speeds. Be sure to talk to your teenager about the increased risks involved when you push beyond the normal limits.
No Friends in the Car – No matter your age, extra passengers in the car automatically means more distraction. For a teenager, prone to peer pressure, however, the risks for distraction are even higher, as they are more likely to engage in risky behaviors and habits like speeding, tailgating, driving erratically, ignoring road signs or showing off as opposed to when it’s just them in the car. Parents should set a ‘no extra passengers’ rule while their teens are still learning the rules of the road.
No Drinking – This one’s a given – never, ever let your teenagers (or anyone for that matter) get behind a wheel after drinking. Make sure that you teach your teen from a young age the dangers of drinking and driving, as well as the dangers of getting in a car with someone who has been drinking.
Sharing these driving tips with your teenager is the first step in ensuring that they take to the road, safely. But, remember, it starts at home, so set a good example for your teen by following these rules of the road, yourself, and you’ll be sure to instill safe driving habits that will stick with your teen for life.