Teenagers learn to drive every day all across the country. They take driver’s education classes in high schools, community centers, and driving schools. Parents spend countless nervous hours in the passenger’s seat in cars trying to prepare teens to handle the open road on their own. The tests required for both a learning driver’s permit and a driver’s license are comprehensive.
Given all the preparation that goes into helping teen drivers thrive, it may seem safe to assume that teen drivers are being adequately prepared for all the inevitable challenges of driving in modern cities, towns and freeways. However, statistics show that American society has a serious problem on its hands when it comes to teen drivers.
According to The Los Angeles Times, auto accidents are the number one cause of death for teenagers in the United States. That one statistic is scary enough for any parent. Drivers who are between the ages of 16 and 19 are three times as likely to get in a crash as drivers who are over the age of 20. That potentially puts everyone on the road at risk.
The good news is that, as a parent, you may be able to prevent your teen from having an auto accident. There are no guarantees because, sometimes, automobile wrecks are beyond a driver’s control. But you can follow these tips to help your teens be prepared to stay safe on the road and prevent car accidents that can result in personal injury or even death.
Get Involved in Your Teens’ Driving Education
Don’t trust that the driver’s education classes that your teens receive at school are enough. The programs are sure to be carefully designed with teens in mind. However, it can only help for you to get personally involved. That includes asking your teens questions after class. You may require your teens to practice driving with you even if they practice in a car at school.
Getting involved should also mean that you set rules for what your teenagers need to learn before they can drive. Your state may only require a certain percentage of passing answers on the driver’s license exam, but you may require your teens to know more. The more your teens know about safe driving rules, the more empowered they’ll be to make the right choices on the road.
Ask your teens to honestly evaluate their strengths and weaknesses as drivers, then discuss whether you feel they are on the right track. If you start to feel like these actions may be irksome for your teens, consider how it would feel to come to the scene of an accident with one of your teens behind the wheel. Be a nuisance if necessary to protect the lives of your teens.
Set Up a Safe Way Teens Can Get Home
Teenagers aren’t only at stake when they are behind the wheel. Many young people are injured or killed every year when they get in the car with a friend who has been drinking or who cannot drive well. Talk to your teens about what they should do if they find themselves in that situation.
Whether it’s allowing them to use your Uber account on their phone if they need a way home or calling you for a ride if they land in a precarious situation, be sure that your teens know that they have a way to safely say no to dangerous driving situations without getting in trouble. Otherwise, teens who are punished for getting in the situation may hesitate to call for help next time.
Present Serious Consequences for Breaking Driving Rules or Laws
Establish driving rules for your teens early on. They should learn these rules in addition to the laws set up by the government for safe driving. Your rules may be different. While the laws in your state may allow your teen to talk on a phone while driving, your rules can forbid it.
Put the rules in writing and have your teens sign an acknowledgement of them. That may seem unnecessarily formal, but it can help impress upon young people how serious the matter is. Make sure your teens have a printed copy of all rules and discuss them as often as you feel teens would benefit from the conversation.
Also, set serious consequences for breaking the rules. Make sure your teens know what the consequences are for breaking the rules. You may set a different standard of punishment depending on the rule. For example, if teens get behind the wheel of a car when they shouldn’t, the consequences should be severe. However, if a minor rule was broken, start small.
The one thing to remember is that you need to be consistent. If a teen breaks a driving curfew rule and you let it slide, they may be emboldened to take a more dangerous risk next time. Always follow through and enforce the punishments for breaking driving rules.
Finally, contact Shay & Associates if your teen has sustained an injury in a car accident. We are on your side, and our caring team can help answer your questions and concerns in the aftermath of an auto accident.