Safe teen driver. No, that is not an oxymoron. You can prepare your teen and guide them to being safe drivers.
Maybe the whole license thing is bitter sweet for you: you’re looking forward to giving your teen more freedom and at the same time you are nervous about the risk that comes when they get behind the wheel.
Here are the facts:
Statistically, teen drivers are more likely to get into accidents than older drivers, according to several studies. Teen drivers (16-19) are nearly 3 times more likely than drivers ages 20+ to be in a fatal accident, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Teens are more likely to misjudge traffic situations and are more easily distracted than older drivers. (Life360)
As you hand your child the keys to the car, keep these tips in mind:
Give them plenty of practice. The more your teen practices driving, the better prepared they’ll be for their driving test. The trick is staying calm as you sit in the driver’s seat and not give in to your reactions or nag them to do things as they drive.
Educate them on the danger of distractions. One of their biggest will be their phones. Insist that they turn them on silent when they drive. Another way to help be sure they are fully focusing is to have them select the music they want to listen to before starting.
Let these facts sink in:
Driver distraction is responsible for more than 58% of teen crashes. AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety
According to the CDC drivers aged 15-19 were more likely to be distracted than drivers aged 20 and older, among drivers in crashes where a death occurred. Nine percent of all teens who died in crashes were killed in distraction-affected crashes.
Buckle up. They should be sure that they, as well as all passengers are bucked in before putting the car in drive.
86% of passenger vehicle occupants who survived a fatal crash were wearing a seat belt.
You are 20x more likely to be killed if you are ejected from a vehicle. (Kaileemillsfoundation)
Allow space. Accidents happen in a split second so it’s important for drivers to keep a safe distance from other vehicles on the road.
Allowing space also applies to parents and their drivers. Even though you are in the passenger seat, you must not be hovering and hounding your young driver. Give them some space to make decisions. If you do not feel confident in them driving on the road, let them do more practicing in less busy roads.
Insist on the basics. Don’t let them get lazy when it comes to signaling, slowing down in bad weather, and remind them to refrain from driving when they are angry or upset.
Use a parent/teen contract. Before your young driver hits the road, the CDC recommends a parent/teen driving contract. This is actually a great tool and provides a good opportunity to have a very important conversation with your kids.
Your teen needs to know the facts, the risks, the dangers, and the immense responsibility that comes with getting behind the wheel. It starts with you modeling good driving habits and then being sure they are clear on what you expect from them. Driving a car should never be taken lightly. Lives are at stake, including your child’s.
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