Research shows that auto accidents injure three million people in the US annually. As such, it is fundamental for new drivers, especially teen drivers, to learn to drive safely to protect themselves and other road users. As a parent, you have the duty to talk to your teen about safe driving and modeling your behavior. Below are three tips to read before starting the conversation on driving safety with your teen.
Distracted Driving and Its Repercussions
Distracted driving is prevalent among teens and young drivers. Before talking to your teen about driving safety, a parent should familiarize themselves with this concept and its adverse effects. First, learn the definition of distracted driving. While most people think that distracted driving is simply using your cell phone when driving, it is much more than that. It refers to any action that distracts you when driving, including eating, flipping radio channels and navigation, talking to other passengers in the vehicle, and grooming.
Second, be ready to present the statistics to back up your claim against distracted driving. Six of ten accidents that cause severe injuries to teenagers involve distracted driving. While such statistics may scare a teen, they also act as a deterrent to unsafe driving practices.
Third, distractions endanger teens, their passengers, and other road users. In the event of a crash, people may be injured, property damaged, and, worst case, someone killed. Consequently, a parent may have to deal with lawsuits, medical bills, and high insurance premiums.
Some types of dangerous driving, such as driving under the influence (DUI,) affect both the teen and parent. In Pennsylvania, teen drivers may have their license suspended or spend 72 hours in jail until paying a fine of between $1,000 and $5,000.
Create ground rules for your teen driver for greater safety. Ensure your teen understands the rules and what happens when they break them — walking, taking the bus, or begging a parent for rides. Firstly, buckling up is mandatory, both for the driver and passengers. In fact, in 2019, half of the passengers in fatal accidents involving teen drivers were not buckled up.
Second, follow speed limits and prohibit overspeeding. Over speeding caused 27% of fatal auto accidents in 2019. Third, limit passengers. Since teen drivers are inexperienced, having passengers can be a distraction and also jeopardize their safety.
Thirdly, no drinking and drugs while behind the wheel. Let your teen learn about the dangers of driving under the influence. Legally, a teen can be charged with DUI as long as they have a detectable level of alcohol in the blood, even if it’s below .08%. Lastly, set a car curfew, whereby you limit night driving and the number of solo driving per day.
After all the talk, it is time to hit the road with your teen driver. The best way for your teenagers to be excellent drivers is to practice consistently and persistently. Start by letting your teen drive in a safe area, such as an empty parking lot or a quiet residential area.
The first lessons should be how to start and stop the vehicle, make turns, merge into traffic, and back up. It is best practice to keep the initial lessons short to avoid overwhelming the learner. As they learn, you can increase the length of the sessions and try different road terrain, weather, and times of the day. In the training process, stay calm, be patient, and avoid yelling and berating when correcting the teen driver.
One crucial thing that promotes driving safety is setting a good example. A parent is a role model, and most kids, including teens, imitate their actions. As such, assess your driving habits and change them accordingly to create a positive example for the teen.
Before your teen hits the road for the first time, talking to them about driving safety is essential. This way, you protect the young driver, contribute to safer roads, and avert the dangers of teen driving. The tips above will help you handle this crucial topic effectively.