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Tips for Parents of Teen Drivers


While it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the never-ending drop-off and pickup schedule that comes with having kids, the alternative—a teen driver—is just as anxiety inducing.

The frightening reality is that driving is dangerous, and it’s especially so for teens. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the fatal crash rate per mile for 16-19 year olds is three times that of drivers who are 20 or older. The highest rate is for 16-17 year olds. All this and teens drive less than any other age group except the very oldest drivers.

There are ways to raise a safer driver, however, and we’ve put together some straightforward tips to help you get started.

Model the behavior you want to see.

It’s almost the quintessential rule of parenting, but it’s especially true when it comes to teens and new driving habits. As hard as it might be to believe, your teenager will look to you for how to behave on the road. So always buckle up, keep your phone on silent and out of sight and follow the rules of the road.

Sign them up for drivers’ education.

Teaching a teen to drive can be frustrating, with plenty of seat gripping and white knuckles to go around. Why do it all yourself? Sign your teen up for a drivers’ education program. In addition to getting valuable practice time, your teen should learn techniques for handling a vehicle in an emergency, like hydroplaning. In fact, in Georgia, 16 year olds must complete a drivers’ education program before earning their Class D license.

Set some rules.

Fortunately, the state backs up parents on this one. Gone are the days when you could get your permit at 15, take a road test at 16 and drive away with a Class C license. Georgia now has a graduated licensing program, which delays the full privileges of driving until teenagers are 18 and have broader driving experience. While 15 year olds can still start driving with an instructional permit, the next step is an intermediate, or Class D, license, which includes a driver’s curfew and limits numbers of passengers a teen can have.

Also remember that it’s your right as the parent to exceed these restrictions. Some parents create a “car contract,” which might limit things like night driving or friends in the car. Technology can help enforce contracts when it comes to seat belt use or texting while driving.

Talk about drinking and driving.

Stress that drinking and driving is never OK. Sometimes a simple reminder that you’d rather pick them up—no matter the time or place—than see them drive drunk or drive with a friend who’s been drinking is a powerful reminder of how serious this issue is.

Choose a car that’s safe.

If your teen is lucky enough to get his or her own car, make sure it’s one that’s safe and reliable. Cars don’t have to be new, but sometimes the old clunkers teens end up with don’t have all of the safety features that they need. Consider investing in a car that has features like side-curtain air bags and electronic stability control, and avoid larger cars that could end up packed with kids. And whether your teen is driving his or her own car or sharing the family vehicle, make sure you teach basic maintenance.

If you’ve been in a car accident in Macon, Ga., you need a personal injury attorney with experience. The Macon car accident lawyers at Buzzell, Welsh & Hill understand these types of cases. Contact us for a free consultation today.

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