Teen Driver Safety Week is upon us. This provides an opportunity for parents and community members to raise awareness and promote safe behavior behind the wheel. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to help your teens maximize their safety behind the wheel. Encourage your young driver to take the following actions:
Distractions are dangerous for all drivers, but especially those with less experience. According to recent studies, using a cell phone behind the wheel is equivalent to driving drunk, even when using a hands-free phone. For this reason, many states are expanding their texting and driving laws to include using a cell phone while driving. What’s more, younger drivers often face more stringent rules.
Texting, for example, can cause drivers to take their eyes off the road for almost five seconds. Travelling at a speed of 55 miles per hour, this could mean that you don’t watch the road for the length of a football field! A lot can happen in that time. To maximize teen safety, encourage inexperienced drivers to shut their phones off and put them out of reach while behind the wheel. This helps eliminate temptation – and any text or phone call can wait until their car is parked.
Phones aren’t the only distractions in a car. They can also come in the form of a navigation system, eating, or even talking with friends. When your children are first learning how to drive, restrict how many passengers they can have in the car (if you choose to allow them at all). Set a good example by never eating, applying makeup, or fiddling excessively with the navigation system while you’re driving.
Use Safe Night-Driving Practices
Teens are still learning how to drive, which means they may have little to no experience driving at night or in inclement conditions. Encourage them to use their headlights in the early morning and evenings, as this increases their visibility. Maintaining awareness and maximizing visibility will go a long way toward preventing accidents, especially on the early morning rides to school.
Obey the Speed Limit
Speeding is one of the largest factors in car accidents, and teens are risk-takers by nature. Tell your teen to follow all posted speed limits and set consequences for violations. For example, you might have your teen pay the increase in insurance premiums if he or she receives a speeding ticket. Setting consequences and following through increases the likelihood that teens will obey the law when behind the wheel.
Surveil, If Necessary
Finally, technology can help us keep teens safe on the roads. Some newer cars come equipped with applications that allow you to control speed or even drivability (for example, limiting actions when seatbelts aren’t fastened). There are also ways you can track cell phone use and ascertain if your teen is talking or texting while driving. If you think your teen isn’t following your safety rules, leverage this technology. Together, you and your teen can maximize safety and reduce your risk of accident.