There’s a lot to think about when teens begin to drive. Here are a few things you should consider when your teen gets behind the wheel.
Establish a Pre-start Car Routine
Before starting the car, adjust mirrors and driving position and be sure that everyone in the vehicle fastens their safety belts. Whether it’s perceived peer pressure or a feeling of invincibility, teenagers generally wear seatbelts less than any other group. So make seatbelt use a priority and a condition that must be met for your teen to drive.
Practice. Practice. Practice.
Young drivers can never get too much practice, so let your teen drive as much as possible after getting a learner’s permit. If you’re going to the store, school, soccer practice or wherever, let your teen get behind the wheel with you in the car.
Teaching your teen to drive can push even the most patient parents over the edge, but it’s very important to never overreact while your teen is driving. Studies have shown that an emotionally charged conversation compromises driving performance, reduces attention span and increases distraction. If your child does something wrong on the road, make a mental note to discuss it when you get home or, if you feel that the problem is serious enough, pull over and you can drive home.
Driving with Friends
Many states have provisional licensing laws, which means a driver’s privileges increases as they gain more years behind the wheel. If teens have a provisional license, which is in effect for the first 12 months of driving or until turning 18 (whichever comes first), they cannot carry other passengers unless they are over 20 years old and they are not allowed to drive between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. Does it work? Yes. Teen motor fatalities decreased 13% and at-fault rate of fatal accidents dropped 14%1 when California implemented a graduated driver licensing law, which applies to 16 and 17 year olds.
Don’t Drink & Drive
Let’s keep this simple. Drinking or getting high and driving is a death wish. Demand that your teen never drink and drive or ride with anyone who has been drinking or using drugs. There were 10,076 alcohol-related fatalities in 2013 – 31% of all traffic fatalities – which averages about one death every 52 minutes.2
“Oh, it’s not a big deal if I’ve just had one drink?” Watch the videos below and we’re pretty sure you’ll see that calling for a ride is the way to go.
Talk to Your Teen While Driving
Take every opportunity to educate your teen while travelling together. Turn off the radio and talk about hazards you encounter. Some common themes may include watching downhill speed, spotting trouble ahead, braking sooner rather than later and watching the driving behavior of other cars. Remember, parents are primary role models for teens, especially as they learn how to drive.
Burgers, Instagram & Texting Can Wait
Driving requires complete focus and concentration, especially for new drivers. According to a National Highway Traffic Safety Association study, teens 15 to 19 years old are involved in 11% of distracted driving crash fatalities.3 That means no cell phones, no texting, no putting on make-up, no eating and no playing with the smartphone to find a favorite song.
Limit Nighttime Driving
Limit driving to daylight hours when teens first begin to drive. The nighttime accident rate for teen drivers is about three times as high as the daytime rate.4