It is never too early to speak with your teens about safe driving. With the spring come rites of passage for teens including proms, graduations and other celebrations. Unfortunately often those celebrations include drinking and driving. According to studies by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, teen drivers are more likely to have alcohol related traffic accidents. Also teens between the ages of 16 and 19 are more likely to be in a fatal crash. Those teens at high risk for fatal accidents are males, those with other teen passengers in the car, the more teens in the car the higher the risk and newly licensed drivers.
Here is what you can do to help your teen become a responsible and safe driver.
- You must always be an example for your teen. Your teen should not see you drinking and driving. If you are drinking at dinner let your teens see you handing your keys to someone else to drive who did not drink. Let them see you handle a traffic situation with calm and poise and not show anger and frustration when cut off in traffic by another driver.
- Talk to your teens about safe driving. The discussion should include rules on how your teen can remain safe. Have your teen help set the rules such as, no other teens in the car while driving. No drinking or drugs at anytime. Follow the speed limit signs.
- Make a plan on what your teen should do if they are faced with a difficult driving situation. Make it clear that they should stop driving, pull over and call or contact you or some other responsible adult for help and guidance. Let them know that if they are out with someone else who is driving and drinking that you will pay for a cab to get them and the driver home with no strings attached.
- Let them know that seat belts are mandatory for everyone at all times, driver and passengers. Let them see you using your seat belt and reminding them of the importance of buckling up.
- There should be no distractions such as horseplay, texts, phone calls or GPS insertions while driving. No putting on make-up while driving. If you need to use the phone or check the GPS pull over to the side of the road, turn off the car and then make your call or text.
- Some states have a Graduated Driver Licensing program with 3 stages: 1. Learner’s Permit period. 2. An Intermediate Probationary License. 3. A Full/Unrestricted License. Talk to your congress or council people. This system seems to help in lowering the number of teen accidents.
- Finally, help your teens get as much information as possible. Contact Students Against Destructive Decisions (SAAD), Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), or contact your insurance company like Liberty Mutual who has a partnership with Adept Driver and the teen SMART driving course for help and assistance in educating your teens.
Remember to keep your teen safe behind the wheel they must be mature, calm and responsible and they must see that you are too!