What Parents Can Do to Protect Their Teen Drivers?
It can be hard, after years of keeping your kids close, to hand them the keys and hope they stay safe on the road. Driving is a challenge even for those with plenty of experience. But for teens, who are just learning the ropes, there are extra risks involved. According to the CDC, six teens aged 16-19 die every day due to motor vehicle crashes, with hundreds more injured.
So what can you do as a parent to help keep your teen driver safe?
Why are teen drivers so at risk? It largely comes down to their lack of experience on the road. Teens are more likely to make errors, forget traffic rules or completely underestimate a dangerous situation.
That’s why it’s no surprise that newly licensed teens are at the highest risk for crashes. Fortunately, Georgia’s graduated licensing program helps address this lack of experience by limiting risks, like night driving or multiple passengers, for younger teens.
After passing a written examination, 15 year olds may still earn at learner’s permit. But at 16 or 17, drivers graduate to a Provisional Driver’s License (Class D). With a Class D license, teens may not drive between midnight and 5 a.m. They’re also limited in the number of non-family passengers they may drive. At 18, teens with a good record may graduate to a full Class C License.
Understanding the Risks
A lack of experience isn’t the only risk teens face, however. As parents, there’s a lot you can do to help your teen understand the issues:
- Model safe driving. From early childhood on, you’ll want to provide a good example to your kids. This means following traffic laws, obeying the speed limit and keeping your frustration in check when you interact with inconsiderate drivers. Also consider your own distracted driving record. Your teen is more likely to put away his or her phone while driving if that’s what you do.
- Buckle up. According to the CDC, teens and young adults have the lowest rate of seat belt use. Seat belts save lives. Remind your teen that seat belt use is a non-negotiable part of driving solo.
- Talk about impaired driving. Drinking is a major risk factor for teen drivers. In fact, 16.5 percent of high school students report having ridden within the previous month with a driver who had been drinking alcohol. Remind your kids that it’s never OK to drink and drive. But you may also want to make it clear that you’ll always be ready to provide a ride home if they’ve made a mistake or find themselves with a friend who plans to drive drunk. The hard conversations and consequences can come after they’re home safe.
- Make a driving contract. As a parent, it’s up to you whether your teen gets to drive during the evening, pick up a friend or take an unfamiliar route. Lay out limits and rules and follow up with consequences you know you can enforce. You may also want to insist on “flight plans” for your teen’s drives, with arrival and departure times, a firm destination and the planned route.
- Go high tech. Free family driving apps like Life360 help parents keep track of new drivers through location sharing, as well as allow for speed and phone use monitoring. Some newer cars feature built-in teen driving systems that feature seat belt chimes or allow parents to set speed limitations.
- Teach your teen to speak up. When your teen feels unsafe, it takes confidence to say something. Help your child understand that it’s OK to ask a passenger to turn down the music, remind a friend to buckle up or refuse to ride with someone who has been drinking.
Macon Car Crash Lawyer
If you or your teen has been injured in a car crash caused by someone else’s mistake, you need a lawyer with experience handling complex cases. The Macon personal injury attorneys at Buzzell, Welsh & Hill will help ensure you get the compensation you deserve. Contact us for a free consultation today.