Car accidents are a leading cause of fatalities for teenagers. The biggest threat to a teenagers’ life is getting a ride from a teenage driver. Allowing teenagers to drive is an important freedom that parents should carefully consider. Parents can mitigate these risks with careful restrictions and strict penalties to manage their teenager’s first few months on the road.
Teenagers at Risk
The Centers for Disease Control states that more than 2,400 teenagers died in 2016 due to car collisions. According to experts, a young adult or teenager is more likely to be a negligent driver and engage in risky behavior, such as drinking and driving or distracted driving. Teenagers are particularly susceptible to distracted driving because they are accustomed to constant stimulus from mobile devices.
Strategies to Encourage Safe Driving
Parental teaching is the first and best way to instill good driving habits in teenagers.
1. Acting as a Role Model
Parents should be model drivers for their children. Parents should insist on seatbelts, stay within the speed limit, obey traffic signals, and stop at all stop signs. Parents should also refrain from distracted driving, such as eating, texting, and talking on the phone.
2. Setting Specific Rules and Enforce Penalties
No two teens are identical. Every teenager varies in maturity, intelligence, and disposition. Parents should consider their child’s unique qualities and set driving rules accordingly. Experts agree that the first six months of driving are the most dangerous for a teenager. Parents can mitigate these risks by imposing restrictions such as no driving with passengers for the first six months or no driving after 10:00 pm.
Parents can relax these restrictions as their teenager demonstrates a record of safe driving. For example, after six months of safe driving, parents might allow their child to drive a single passenger. However, studies show that adding a single passenger increases the risk of an accident by 40%, and two passengers double the risk of an accident.
Parents should pair these rules with strict penalties such as losing smartphone or driving privileges.
3. Teaching Safe Driving
Basic driving courses are not enough for teen drivers. Parents need to engage with their teenagers on techniques actively. For example, teaching how to drive at night, drive in the rain, or merge with highway traffic.
4. Inspecting the Car
Parents should inspect the vehicle and teach their teenagers to do the same. Teen drivers should be taught how to check tire pressure, tire wear, and fluids.
5. Restricting Privileges
Parents also need to be ready to restrict driving privileges altogether. Some states allow parents to prevent their teenagers from getting a license. Parents need to be realistic about their child and propose solutions to how their child can prove he or she is responsible.