Having a new driver in the family can be nerve-racking and worrisome for parents. Car crashes are the leading killer of US teens—crash rate for 16-17-year-olds is 3 times the rate for drivers 20 and older.
Some things parents can do to help their young driver:
- Ensure teens are well prepared to drive
- Fully understand the rules of the road
- Significant practice time before getting under the wheel..especially true when driving without an adult present
- Having passed all driving exams (written and actual driving) before allowing a teen to drive
- Utilize local drivers ed professionals for classes
- Parents to lead by example
- Buckle up
- Put down the phone— never under any circumstance be texting while driving
- Watch speed
- Do not drink and drive
- Consider the car they are driving
- Are not overly “fast” and do not invite the need for speed while at the same time are not so slow it hinder confidence in merging traffic
- Good braking distances, good scores for emergency handling
- Question SUVs and minivans (vehicles with 3 rows)… additional passengers can cause distraction and risk for young drivers.
- Manage trips teens are taking and route they are taking
- Purposeful driving is more likely to result in safe outcomes rather than joyriding… the bigger the city the more risk there is for “riding around”
- Time for travel, when expected to depart/arrive, plan for contact/communication, contingency plan if something goes wrong, confirm they are well rested/alert before taking the wheel
Parenting Challenge: Ensure your teen is well prepared for driving by practicing with them and ensuring they have the skills and mindset to be safe at all times. Discuss the rules and let them know the non-negotiables (no drinking while driving, no texting, and limit on passengers).