As a parent of a teenager, you are probably acutely aware of the risk that letting them get behind the wheel poses to their health and safety. Car crashes remain among the top causes of teenage death in the United States. All too often, the crashes that claim teenage lives are completely preventable.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the single most common contributing factor to teenage car crashes is inexperience on the part of a driver. There’s little you can do to overcome inexperience other than encouraging your teen to practice driving frequently, ideally with you or another adult in the vehicle.
Beyond experience, however, it is worth noting that all seven of the top eight remaining risks are personal decisions that you can help your child learn to avoid.
Make sure your teen knows what factors impact their ability to drive
Chances are good that your young driver has already heard from you and from other people about the risks of impaired driving and distracted driving. Both of those issues are well-known, and yet they remain among the top contributing factors for serious teenage crashes.
Explaining how risky those behaviors are is important, as is making sure your teenage driver knows about the risks of drowsy driving, especially at night. Driving when you feel tired is similar to driving when drunk because of how it affects the body’s ability. Nighttime driving on its own is also on the list of risk factors.
Putting a rule in place that allows your teen to call home without punishment when they need a ride, whether they are drunk or just too tired to drive on their own, will help keep them safe.
Encourage your teen to make good decisions when driving on their own
The three remaining risks from the top eight dangers for teen drivers involve decisions they make behind the wheel. Reckless driving, like racing with their friends, involves letting short-term benefits override the long-term significance of safe driving practices.
Not using seat belts is a frustrating decision that may stem from the common teenage belief that no harm will befall them. Finally, other teenagers in the car with a young driver are a major risk factor for a crash.
Limiting the number of passengers your teen can have in their car, having a mandatory seat belt rule and enforcing safe driving standards can all help motivate your teenager to make better decisions at the wheel that could decrease their risk of getting into or causing a collision.