For many parents, having a young, inexperienced driver on the road can be one of the most stressful times in raising their children. Inexperience coupled with impulsiveness not only increase teenagers risk of being involved in an automobile accident but actually make them three times as likely to be in a car accident compared to adult drivers. When you factor in that car accidents are the leading cause of death for ages 16-19 years old, it’s no wonder that parents are looking for more safety strategies for their young drivers.
Buckle It Up
There’s no doubt about it… seatbelts save lives and your teen wearing one regardless if they are driving or not, decreases their risk of being seriously injured in the event they are involved in an accident. No matter if they are sitting in the front or back seat of a vehicle, seatbelts just make sense to wear. Stress to your young driver that they should wear one every time they get in a vehicle, no matter who is driving.
You don’t have to be a teen to fall into driving while distracted but teens are even more likely to be involved in an accident when they are using their phone to make a call or text, four times more to be exact. Help your teen reduce their chances of becoming another young statistic by removing the chances that they will become distracted by their cell phone and teach them to put them away while they are behind the wheel. Keeping it in the glove box, bag in the backseat or shut off completely.
Enforce Graduation Drivers Licensing Rules
All 50 states have some form of a Graduated Drivers License program which gradually provides opportunities to teens to improve their experience and skill. In Michigan, Level 1 Learner’s License offers new drivers a chance to drive behind the wheel while they are under the guidance of their licensed parent, guardian or an authorized adult over 21. Level 2 Intermediate License allows teens to drive independently but restricts hours at night that can be driven. Studies show that GDL programs have dramatically reduced serious accidents in our youth but parent support is a vital key to that success. Be sure to reinforce at home what the law already has set for guidelines to keep your child safer when they climb behind the wheel.
Limit Number Of Passengers
Studies have shown time and time again that as the number of passengers increases, so does the risk of a teenage driver having an accident. Michigan’s GDL limits the number to one passenger unless it is to or from work or an authorized activity, are an immediate family member or accompanied by a parent, guardian or a licensed driver over 21 or older designated by a parent or guardian. As with all of the GDL guidelines, reinforce this standard to keep your young driver safer.
Today’s technology makes it easier than ever before to monitor your teen driver from a distance. Apps like Life 360, Canary or Safe Driver allow parents to see if their driver is using their phone to make calls, text or access social media while they are driving. In addition, these apps can notify parents if the driver goes over set speed limits, hard brakes or accelerates too quickly. But seeing for yourself from time to time is still recommended. Even though they have their license, parents should still ride with their young driver to evaluate themselves how safely they are operating while driving.
Be An Example
Set the bar high with not only your child’s driving but with your own! Too often, parents expect their teens to drive safer than what they do themselves. If you want your teen to wear their seatbelt, drive defensively, put their phone away and just drive than do so yourself to be the example you want them to model themselves after while they’re behind the wheel.
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