For teens, it is literally one of the best rites of passage; for parents, perhaps one of the scariest – having a child earn a driver’s license.
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for teens. The excitement of the extra independence, not to mention the status of being allowed to either borrow the family car or to have one of their own, and the lack of driving experience (and maturity) all too often leads to crashes and devastating consequences.
Besides the rules provided by Lindsay Hutton in her article, 9 Rules for Keeping Your Teen Driver Safe, which will be paraphrased in the list below, visit Tire Rack Street Survival’s website or AAA for more information and where you can find a program being offered in your area to assist your teen driver in becoming a better driver.
Set Driving Limits
Set, and enforce, limits on teen driving. This is especially important during high-risk situations such as at night, in bad weather, on the weekends or during the holidays.
Always Know Who Is Driving
Do not allow your teen to ride with a teen driver who has less than one year’s experience behind the wheel. Stick to this no matter how much they try to convince you how safe the driver is.
Keep Passengers to a Minimum
Do not allow your teen to ride in a vehicle with numerous other teenage passengers. The more teenagers in the car, the higher the level of distraction to the teenage driver.
Always Know Where She Is Going
It is essential that you know where your teen is going, who she is with and the route she plans to take. Require your teen to check in with you when she reaches her destination and about any other plans she may have. Any change of plans should be cleared through you first.
Teach Safe Driving
Teach your teen to look 10 seconds down the road, as well as to stay at least 3 seconds behind the car in front of her at all times. This will help your teen to focus on the best route of escape if she is confronted with an obstacle. (This is best reinforced by your example.)
Prepare Him for Emergency Situations
Set up a secret code for your teen to use if he finds herself in an unsafe situation and needs you to come pick him up. Provide him, in advance, with a list of your trusted friends as well as local cab companies to keep in his wallet to avoid sleep-deprived driving.
Lead by Example
Do not use your cell phone for calls or texts when driving – these are both leading distractions and causes for crashes among teenage drivers. Remind your teen to keep his hands off the center of the wheel and feet off the dashboard. In the event of airbag deployment, having hands and feet in this position can result in serious bodily harm.
Wear a Seat Belt
Stress the importance of everyone in the car wearing their seat belt, not just those sitting in the front seat. Should anyone refuse, they should not be allowed to ride in the car.
Keep Vehicle Properly Maintained
Complete a vehicle maintenance check with your teen every month to ensure everything is working and running smoothly. Having your teen wash it now and then would be a nice touch.