Teach your teen how to think smart and stay safe on the road. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), traffic crashes are the leading cause of death in teens 15 – 18 years old. For parents, this is a cause of worry and frustration when their young driver takes to the roads. Make it a priority to talk with your teens about the importance of adhering to a set of safety rules.
Safety Rules for Teen Drivers
While the rules of the road may seem simple, communicate their importance, and establish consequences with your teen. Make sure you have outlined the expectations you have set for safe driving. And, just as important, parents need to set the example and follow the same rules.
Wear Your Seatbelt
No kidding, right? Did you know that as of September 2019 in Alabama, back seat riders are also required to be buckled up. Buckle up for safety may be cliché, but it also the law.
Don’t Drive Distracted
According to NHTSA, about 10% of all teen drivers involved in fatal crashes in recent years were distracted at the time of the crash. Distracted driving can be texting and talking on the cell phone, or eating, applying makeup, or changing the radio station. Many teens are distracted by the addition of passengers in the vehicle. Any distraction is a dangerous distraction. Taking eyes off the road even for five seconds could cost a life.
TIP: have your teen set their phone to Do not Disturb mode before they get behind the wheel.
Almost one-third of teen drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2017 were speeding, according to a study from NHTSA. Make sure your teen allows plenty of time to get where they are going to avoid being in a rush. Speeding eliminates the extra time necessary to react. Talk to your teen about reaction time – those few seconds could be lifesaving to avoid a crash.
What can be more fun than loading up a carload of friends and cruising? Extra passengers are a cause of distraction for inexperienced drivers. Emphasize to your teen that driving requires focus. Having a passenger in the car increases the likelihood of risky driving behavior, such as speeding or goofing off while driving. Limiting the number of passengers will help your driver maintain focus on the road.
Don’t Drink or Do Drugs and Drive
It is illegal to drink before the age of 21. However, in 2017, one on five fatal accidents involving teens involved alcohol. Remind your teen that underage drinking is illegal and driving under the influence of any impairing substance – including illicit, over-the-counter, and prescription drugs – could have deadly consequences. Make sure your teen understands if they are lucky enough to survive a crash as an impaired driver, they will face the consequences of breaking the law: a possible trip to jail, the loss of driver’s license, and expenses such as court costs, fines, and insurance hikes. It could put academic eligibility, college acceptance, and scholarship awards at jeopardy as well.
Share this fact sheet on alcohol and driving with your teenagers and make sure they know the consequences of breaking your State laws on drunk and drugged driving.
Bottom line, communicate your expectations to your teen and lead by example. Teach your teen to think smart to stay safe on the road.