4 Teen Driving Safety Tips
When you turn 16 and get your driver’s license, it’s as if the world is at your fingertips. All most teens want to do with their newfound freedom is hit the open road as often as possible. But car crashes are the second leading cause of death for teens in the U.S. — driving can be just as dangerous as it is fun. Here are four tips for parents and teens alike to keep in mind when sending a new driver onto the road.
Set a Good Example
Texting while driving kills 11 teens each day, and the vast majority of teens know it’s dangerous but do so anyway. These new drivers don’t learn dangerous habits like this on their own, though. From early childhood, your children watch you when you drive. They observe your behaviors even when you don’t think they’re watching.
Children notice when you don’t buckle up, use your phone for texting and calls or engage in other kinds of reckless and distracted driving. That’s why it’s important to teach them by example, so they learn what’s right and wrong long before they get behind the wheel themselves. Drive like you would want your brand new teen driver to, and teach them those same safe practices when they start driving.
Have Your Teen Attend Driving School
Enrolling your teen in driving school is the best strategy when it comes to teaching them the rules of the road. In Drivers Ed classes, teens learn about traffic laws, how cars work and even get to start driving under the supervision of a professional. However, they also get extensive information about just how dangerous driving can be.
Driving schools offer entire lessons dedicated to distracted and reckless driving, driving under the influence and the consequences of each. While parents can tell their children not to practice unsafe driving, professionals can help them understand why they shouldn’t. Even if you’re set on being your teen’s primary driving teacher, involving a professional in the process never hurts.
Set Clear Expectations and Policies
As with most aspects of guiding teens to independence, it’s important to set clear boundaries regarding what is and isn’t acceptable when driving. As a parent, you should make sure your teen driver knows your guidelines for the following:
- Driving at night
- Where they’re allowed to drive
- Driving in foul weather
In addition, you should have a zero-tolerance policy with your teen regarding speeding, texting while driving, drunk or otherwise influenced driving and being a passenger of someone doing either. Even more importantly, you need to have a plan in case any of these things do happen.
This could vary from pre-establishing discipline to making sure your teen knows what to do if they’re in a dangerous situation. An alarming 16% of fatal teen driving accidents involve alcohol, and underage drinking makes up 10% of the alcohol consumption in the U.S. It’s important for your teen to know that they have an alternative to getting behind the wheel drunk or getting in the car with a friend who is. Examples of such plans include:
- Offering to pick up your teen from any location with no questions asked in case they’re ever unable to drive.
- Providing money for a rideshare service, for them and friends if needed.
- Allowing an unplanned sleepover if your teen is ever unfit to drive.
Designate Rules Surrounding Other Passengers
One especially important guideline to set is how many passengers your teen driver can have in their car and when. Having other teen passengers in the car significantly increases the risk of distracted driving and car crashes. Texas law addresses this by restricting drivers under the age of 18 from having more than one passenger under the age of 21 in the car, excluding family members, unless there’s an emergency.