Thursday, August 21, 2014

Keeping Teens Safe Behind the Wheel

The freedom that comes with getting a driver’s license is a dream come true for teenagers, but is often a nightmare for their parents. 

Despite frightening statistics that report that teens are four times more likely to be involved in car accidents than older drivers, there are different steps you can take to keep your child safe and help them prevent collisions on the road.

Consider whether your teen is truly ready to drive.

Having a driver’s license carries a great deal of responsibility, and at sixteen years old, some teenagers aren't ready to handle it. If you don’t think your child is ready, wait another year and then reevaluate things. Your teen may not like having to wait, but you will be doing what’s needed to keep them safe.

Make sure your teen gets lots of practice.

After your teen obtains their learner’s permit, it’s important that they get lots of practice time behind the wheel. When they are first learning, take them to an empty parking lot or quiet street so that they can get familiar with the basics of driving. Once they are more comfortable, consider letting your teen drive when you take them to and from school or when you have errands to run. Don’t let your teen take the driver’s license test until you are confident in their driving abilities. The more practice your child gets, the better they will be at making safe choices on the road.

Have your teen sign a driving contract.

It’s important for your teen to understand that driving is a privilege and that they must be responsible in order to keep this privilege. Create a contract that outlines what requirements your child must meet if they want to continue to drive on their own. Depending on your teen, requirements could include such things as maintaining a certain GPA, staying out of trouble at school, regularly completing household chores, and following family rules. Make sure they understand that if they don’t uphold their end of the contract, they will lose their driving privileges for a certain amount of time.

Remove all distractions.

Distracted driving is a factor in almost all accidents involving teenagers. Set ground rules for your child to help them avoid distractions behind the wheel. For their first six months to year of driving, consider restricting stereo use and only allowing your child to only take family members as passengers. And of course, your child should never use their cell phone while driving. Have them set the volume to silent and keep their phone in the glove box to reduce temptation. Get more info on

Set a driving curfew.

Teens often have trouble focusing on driving at night when they are tired and the darkness makes it more difficult to see. An NHTSA study found that driving after 10 p.m. increased accident risk for teens, so set a curfew that your child must meet if they are driving at night.

Have your teen pay a portion or all of their insurance costs.

Any traffic infraction will dramatically increase a teen driver’s insurance rates. Having your child be responsible for part or all of their insurance costs could motivate them to drive safely and obey the speed limit. Conversely, many insurance companies give better rates to teens that maintain good grades in school, which could also motivate your teen to do better in class so that they won’t have to pay as much.

Be a good example.

Even if you haven’t always been a perfect driver in the past, make the choice now to set a good example for your child. Follow all traffic laws, always wear your seatbelt, don’t drive recklessly or aggressively, don’t use your phone, and never drink and drive.

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