Getting a driver’s license is seen as a rite of passage for teenage drivers. Unfortunately, the excitement and newfound independence are often short-lived, as US teens are more at risk of being involved in a motor vehicle accident than anyone else. As many as 2,433 teenagers between the ages of 16 and 19 lost their lives in car accidents in 2016, while a further 292,742 were injured according to the CDC, equating to nearly six teens dying and hundreds more being injured on the roads of the USA on a daily basis. As parents, it is our duty to instill a sense of responsibility in our children, sharing pertinent safe-driving tips and tactics with them and encouraging them to always be safe on the road.
Make sure the car is safe to drive
If you want your teenager to be safe on the road, you have to ensure that the car he is driving is conducive to safe driving. Ensure that the car is well-maintained and that the tires, brakes, windows, and fluids are checked on a regular basis. Where possible, try to get a car with as many additional safety features as possible such as airbags, anti-lock brakes, and electronic stability control. Also, make sure your insurance cover is up to date, and that your teen has a list of emergency details with him at all times.
Put your phone away
Using a cell phone while driving is as dangerous as driving while under the influence of alcohol. As soon as they begin their lessons, teenagers must be taught that their phones should be packed away when they driving. They need to understand that making or receiving calls, texting or browsing the internet from behind the wheel can cause a huge distraction that can result in a fatal accident. Research has found that every time a driver responds to a text, his eyes leave the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, which is long enough to drive the entire length of a football field. When it comes to the ‘no cell phone’ rule, it is important to lead by example, and never use your own phone while driving.
Always wear your seat belt
Despite it being common knowledge that seat belts up can save lives, many teen drivers and their passengers still don’t buckle up. There are a number of reasons why teen drivers choose not to wear seat belts, including being distracted by friends, or being under the influence of alcohol, despite warnings against underage drinking. Again, lead by example: never drive without wearing your seat belt and encourage your teen driver to do the same. It is believed that a young driver will be twice as likely to wear his own seat belt if his parents do the same.
Giving your child the freedom to drive on his own can be nerve-wracking for any parent. While we can’t control the actions and reactions of other road users, we can instill safe driving habits in our children that will hopefully keep them, and others, safe on the roads.