When you’re about to send your new teenage driver out on the road, it’s inevitably going to be stressful. Clearly, they’ve passed their driving test, and yes, you’ve been telling them to buckle up since they were toddlers, but who’s to say what will happen out there?
It’s true that young drivers have an increased risk of auto accident injuries. In 2016, over 292,000 teenagers ended up in an emergency room after a crash.
Ready to help reduce your teen’s risks behind the wheel? Read on for the five rules to help keep them safe.
Rule #1: Set a Good Example on the Road
Before and after your teen begins driving, be aware of your own behavior behind the wheel. Your child will be thinking about driving for quite some time before they ever begin taking lessons – remember how excited you were to start?
It’s inevitable that they’ll be watching you more closely as they prepare for their first drives. So, set a good example. No rolling stops, easing into traffic or changing lanes without signaling. Keep your eyes on the road, follow other cars safely, and try to be the best model you can be. You don’t have to point out your own good driving behavior – just demonstrate it.
Rule #2: Raise “Seatbelt Enforcers”
Hopefully, your kids would feel downright strange without a seatbelt on, but make sure it’s a non-negotiable whenever they are in the car. If they are vigilant about their own seatbelt use, help them feel confident enough to insist that everyone who rides in their car wears one, too.
Peer pressure is hard, your teenager is navigating a lot of social minefields but instill in them that the car doesn’t move unless everyone is wearing their seatbelt. Point out that even airbags don’t work properly without a seatbelt. Tell them that they should care about the safety of everyone they’re piloting. Wearing your seatbelt should be as natural as turning the key in the ignition.
Rule #3: Go Hard on Distracted Driving
No mobile phone use in the car – distracted driving kills. Teen drivers are the most likely fatalities in distracted driving crashes. Don’t rely on your state’s laws – set your own. Here’s another chilling statistic from a study: “Handheld manipulation of the phone while driving has been shown to have a 3 to 4-fold increased risk of a near-crash or crash, and eye glance duration greater than 2 seconds increases crash risk exponentially.”
Your teen may feel like their heart is being ripped out if their mobile phone is shut up in the glovebox while they’re driving, but the statistics bear out the danger. Be firm about their phone use – it saves lives.
Rule #4: Make Sure Your Teen is Prepared
Even if your young driver has aced changing tires and calling for road service help, they may not be sure about what happens in case of an accident. Make sure that they have copies of the proper paperwork in their car. They should always have their vehicle registration and insurance information in a spot where they can find it. Yes, much of this information is now available on phone apps, but batteries die and phones go missing in collisions. It’s smart to have the paper backup.
It’s also important to review with them what to do in case of an accident:
- Call the police, but don’t admit fault (your insurance company will thank you).
- Check for injuries in the vehicles involved and move to a safe area.
- Gather information from the other driver and witnesses regarding insurance information, license numbers, and contact information.
- Take photos of damage and conditions of the accident scene, but do not share them on social media.
Even minor car accidents can really rattle the nerves of new drivers. As a parent, you’ll need to help them navigate any insurance claims, especially if they’re injured. For your own peace of mind, keep auto accident attorney contact information handy.
Rule #5: Set a Zero-Tolerance Ban on Drinking and Driving
You can’t be in the car with your teen at all times, but you can have a frank talk about drinking and driving. It all comes down to understanding and good decisions. Here are some of the best practices to adopt for keeping your teen safe.
- Offer them the option of a safe ride home if they’ve been drinking or their driver has been drinking. No shame, just a safe teenager.
- Understand that teen drinkers don’t just go at it for a “buzz,” and that they are 17 times more likely to die in a crash when they have an illegal substance in their blood.
- Model safe behavior — you should never drive after drinking, either.
Somehow, we survived our teenage years, and those memories make us fearful for our new teenage drivers. Times have changed, the distractions are different, but the same preparation and common sense will help keep your young driver safe. Keep the lines of communication open, set your guidelines from the outset, and remember that you were once a young driver, too. Should the worst happen you may need some legal advice you can check out the Distasio Firm who are expert auto accident attorneys.