According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, car accidents account for 40% of all fatalities among kids 15-20 year olds. A lot of this has to do with the fact that only about 80% of them fail; to buckle their seat belts. In fact, more than 56% of those involved in fatal crashes were unbuckled.
And while it is always the right time to instill safe driving practices in your kids, now that schools are open again across the country it is a prime time to remind teens that along with their academic responsibilities comes the need to be more responsible behind the wheel.
One of the best ways to encourage this according to Driving-Tests.org is to work out a Parent-Teen driving contract establishing ground rules that must be followed before handing kids the keys to any motor vehicle. This includes establishing consequences for breaking them.
One of the first rules (after putting on their seatbelts) should be is that once the ignition is turned on, all cell phones, ipads and other electronic devices go off. It is a well established fact that texting (whether sending a message or reading one) takes your eyes off the road for about 4.6 seconds. At 55 miles per hour, that's the equivalent of driving the length of an entire football field, blindfolded.
It is also important to make sure that adolescents get enough sleep before attempting to drive. In fact, operating a vehicle while deprived of sleep can have the same effects as being intoxicated, such as delayed reflexes and reaction time, it can affect their eyesight. In addition, running behind schedule can put added pressure on stressed out teens; causing them to speed.
It is also important for parents to limit the number of people in the car when their kids are driving. In fact, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that “a teen's crash risk increases by 48% with each additional passenger.” They also suggest that during a teen's first year behind the wheel passengers should be not be allowed to drive with a new driver (parents or responsible adult drivers excluded). This should also include a rule forbidding any unsupervised driving after 10 p.m. even on the weekends when there are more cars - and more drunk drivers - on the road. In fact, more than 50% of teen deaths from motor vehicle crashes are found to happen between 3 p.m. and midnight.
Parents also need to enforce zero tolerance for drinking and driving, especially for underage drivers (above and beyond local motor vehicle laws). Again, the IIHS states that “nearly one million teens drank alcohol and got behind the wheel in 2011.”
For more help in establishing your own Parent-Teen driving contract, readers can go online to About Driving-Tests.org. Driving-Tests.org is a leading online educational learning site that offers free permit practice test services to as many as 250,000 learner drivers in the US each month.
For a related article see http://www.examiner.com/article/why-more-teens-are-now-afraid-to-drive