For the average teenager or young adult, getting their license and the keys to a car is a rite of passage and a source of social freedom. For the parents of the teen driver, however, that newfound freedom is a source of anxiety. After all, motor vehicle collisions are one of the leading causes of death for young adults in the United States.
Thankfully, there are steps that parents can take to help their teenagers avoid the biggest risks on the road. From talking openly about safe driving practices to instituting rules that limit certain risks, parents can help their teens stay safe.
Teens commonly refuse seatbelts
According to federal driver safety data, teenagers are less likely to use seatbelts than almost any other age group. Only 3/5 of teenagers report that they always use safety belts in vehicles. Make sure your teen is one of the three, not the two who leave themselves open to catastrophic injury by eschewing this most basic of safety precautions.
Give your kid a free pass if they need a safe ride
Impaired driving among teenagers is a major risk. The teen years are often when people choose to first experiment with drugs or alcohol. Many teenagers, facing an impending curfew, can make a questionable decision after their experimentation to choose to get behind the wheel of the car to get home on time.
While you obviously want your teenager to make good choices, their safety should always be the top priority. If you let your young driver know that they can call you for safe transportation if they are ever under the influence without penalties, they are more likely to call you in the event that they aren’t safe to drive.
Make sure you discuss the dangers of distraction at the wheel
Texting and driving or posting social media while in control of a vehicle can be a major source of risk. So can discussions with passengers or conversations over mobile phones. Make sure that your young driver understands that these risks apply to everyone, including adults.
Also, commit to setting a good example by turning your phone off and keeping it out of your hands when you drive. If you choose not to use your phone while driving, you can inspire your child to follow suit and make safer choices.
Consider limiting how many friends they can allow in the vehicle
Just because your teenage driver has to borrow the family minivan doesn’t mean that they should pack it full of their classmates and head out for some fun. Limiting your child to one or two peers in the vehicle at any given time is probably a good decision. Other passengers in the vehicle can be a major source of distraction, so limiting their presence can help you keep your youthful driver safe.