With sky high insurance premiums, it’s probably no surprise to you that your teen driver is three times more likely than older drivers (20 and up) to be in a fatal car crash. This is obviously due to teens lacking experience and sound judgement. Unfortunately, we can’t control our kids’ every move, and the best thing we can do as parents is to teach them to make good decisions even when we’re not around. So, if you’re the parent of a teen driver, here are some key skills you’ll want to emphasize while they’re learning:
What Every Parent Should Tell Their Teen Driver
1. Focus. One of the best parts of getting your license when you’re a teen is being able to drive your friends around. But unfortunately, this comes with many distractions. Conversations, horseplay, and music can get in the way of any driver’s concentration, and even moreso for an amateur driver. On top of that, this generation now has the extra distraction of cell phone conversations and texting.
What do you tell them? Provide guidelines on minimizing distractions like turning off their phone while driving. If they’re a new driver, restrict them to having only one extra person in the car until they prove they are a responsible driver. Be open and honest about statistics of teen accidents and fatalities. Talk to them about the consequences of bad driving decisions: jail, tickets, damages, injuries, and even death. Let them know how their choices not only impact them, but also their friends lives and other drivers on the road.
2. Drive defensively, not offensively. What’s too fast? Even one mile over the speed limit is going too fast. Although your teens are bound to go over the speed limit at some point in time, help them understand that how they choose to drive may make the difference in a life or death situation. Let them know that over twenty percent of teen automobile accidents are the result of a driver going too fast. The key to staying safe is driving ‘on the defense.’ This means maintaining control and composure even when dealing with other unruly drivers, staying alert of everything that is going on around them, and preparing to react if they sense danger. If you are able to, enroll your teen in a defensive driving course. Taking this course should also reduce your insurance premium.
3. Exercise extreme caution when driving after daylight. Statistics show that teens are far more likely to be in a serious crash when driving at night. Inexperience combined with difficulty seeing road signs, turns, and other objects make for a dangerous combination. Knowing this, you should limit how far your new driver can roam at night until they develop sound driving skills. You may even want to take them on evening driving sessions, so you have the chance to monitor them and provide them with nighttime driving tips—like when it’s best to use your high and low beams.
4. Always practice safety first. Many teen driving deaths could have been prevented with proper seat belt usage. Although teens buckle up for the most part, it is this age group that has the lowest seat belt use of any age group. Parents— developing a safety mindset in your teen driver starts with you as their role model. When you’re in the driver’s seat, emphasize the importance of wearing seatbelts. Make sure everyone knows that the car isn’t going anywhere until everyone is securely fastened.
For more on keeping your kids safe in cars, read our blog on Car Seat and Seat Belt Guidelines.