This week is National Teen Driver Safety week! It feels like just yesterday your kiddo was born and today, they’re getting their driver’s license. It’s exciting and terrifying all at the same time! You have to trust that your child has listened to all of your words of wisdom, when they take control of that 3,000 pound vehicle/death machine. Take a deep breath parents! While no one can take away the concern you will have when you watch your child drive off on their first solo drive, here are a few tips and topics to share with your child to help ensure they have the knowledge they need to return home each and every night!
Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of teen deaths in the U.S. The majority of these deaths are teens who were not wearing a seatbelt! A good rule of thumb is to buckle up and make sure everyone in your car is buckled before you ever start the car!
Ditch the Distractions
Distracted driving is not just texting, it’s also talking on the phone, eating, drinking, changing the radio station, putting on makeup and conversing with other in the car! Driving your car at 55mph and taking your eyes off the road for 4.6 seconds is equivalent to driving the length of a football field without looking! Let your teen know to put the distractions away and keep their hands on the wheel at all times.
First of all the legal drinking age in the U.S. is 21 years old. Unfortunately underage drinking happens, no matter how much parents tell their kids not to. We do need to let them know that never under ANY circumstance is it ok to get behind the wheel of a car after drinking alcohol! Talk to your teen about having a backup plan on how to get home before they leave the house. (We have the “no questions asked rule”. If my child calls asking for a ride home, its more responsible than them driving while under the influence. I’ll pick them up and not condemn them for drinking, but appreciate that they were responsible enough to call for a ride.)
Speeding is a critical safety issue for teens. In a 2016 report, speed was a factor in 32% of all fatal crashes that involved teen drivers. Driving studies show that as teens gain confidence, their speeding behavior increases. Monitor your teens driving habits and be a good role model. Kids learn from watching their parents.
Attached is a parent-teen driving contract. This is a really helpful tool in letting your teen know what you expect. Please use this as is, or modify it to meet your family’s needs. One thing parents can do is come in to our office with their child. We can review the Teen Driving Contract with them. We can be “the bad guys” for you. We know that our teens often think we don’t know what we’re talking about. If your child suffers from the same condition, maybe a “non-parent” would help show your teen the significant role they play in their safety and the safety of others when they get behind the wheel of a car.
Getting your driver’s license is a huge accomplishment for teens! They are excited and we as parents are excited for them. The time is now on giving them the right tools and information to succeed.
Rachel's son Raymond, after getting his driver's license!
Jaime's son Noah after getting his driver's license.
Click here for the Teen Safety Contract
DrivingTests.org - https://driving-tests.org/driving-statistics/