This article was written by a guest contributor. For guest contribution guidelines, please visit this page.
Ainsley Lawrence is a freelance writer from the Pacific Northwest. She is frequently lost in a good book when she is not writing about how technology impacts our everyday health and wellness.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), teens aged 16 to 19 are more at risk for a motor vehicle crash than any other age group. The fatal crash rate, in particular, is three times higher than that of drivers 20 and older.
So, not only are teens getting into more crashes, they’re dying in them. As scary as these statistics are, you can’t turn a blind eye to them. Instead, use them as motivation to help your teen drive more safely.
The following tips can help parents make responsible drivers out of their teens.
Practice With Your Teen Often
Just like with anything, practice makes perfect with driving. You want safe driving practices to become a habit for your teen. So, regular driving practice is essential.
Ensure your teen gets in some driving practice at least once a week. Increasing this number is a good idea if your teen isn’t in a driver’s education course yet. Take them beyond parking lots onto back roads, busy streets, on to the freeway when they’re ready. Try out different terrains too.
Also, be patient with your teen. They will make mistakes. And it might be a little scary letting them drive. However, the last thing you want to do is yell at or bark orders at them during your driving lessons. Instead, stay positive, calm, and constantly reassuring of them.
Teach Them Defensive Driving Techniques
As you practice with your teen, be sure you’re teaching them defensive driving techniques. Defensive driving ensures your teen is always alert, which helps them avoid crashes and lowers their risk behind the wheel.
Defensive driving techniques include:
- Keep your eyes moving.
- Stay within the speed limit.
- Always know an alternate route.
- Slow down or pull over to avoid aggressive drivers.
- Don’t assume other drivers know how to drive well.
- Leave plenty of space between you and the car in front of you.
- Check your mirrors, put on your seatbelt, and lock your doors before pulling away.
Reiterate the Importance of Not Using Phones While Driving
While almost all teens — 97% — agree that texting while driving is dangerous, at least 43% still do it. This is terrifying, considering you’re 23 times more likely to crash while texting.
Ensuring your teen is a safe driver requires a lot of conversation. And one of the most important topics to discuss is not using their phone while driving. Many states don’t even allow teen drivers to use hands-free devices behind the wheel. So, drive home the point that there are no exceptions to this rule.
Get Them Involved in the Car Buying Process
When you decide to buy your teen a vehicle, get them involved in the process. That way, they can choose a car they love and will take care of. And they can understand the vehicle costs and considerations.
Before you head out to dealerships, educate your teen on smart questions to ask when buying a used car. Asking the right questions will ensure they purchase the safest, most affordable vehicle that fits them. Some of these questions include:
- What’s the car’s history?
- Is a vehicle history report available?
- What are the car’s current problems?
- Is there anything included with the vehicle?
- Is there a warranty?
- Can it be returned?
Related: 10 Factors To Consider Before Buying A Car
Get Good Insurance
Most dealerships won’t let you drive off the lot without purchasing insurance. And that’s a good thing. You want the car fully covered as soon as your teen drives off the lot. You also want to ensure they’re set should they suffer any injuries in an accident.
Moreover, car insurance is a massive part of being a responsible driver. Educate your teen on the ins and outs of their car insurance. It might also be a good idea to make them cover the payment to reinforce responsible driving even more.
In 2020, 7% of fatal crashes involving 15- to 20-year-olds were caused by distracted driving. This was the largest proportion of crashes out of any other age group.
Whether distracted by texting, grooming, eating, or the passengers in the car, driving becomes incredibly dangerous in this condition. Limiting distractions helps your teen become more responsible and avoid deadly crashes.
Below are a few tips to help limit your teen’s distractions while driving.
Limit the Number of Passengers
In many states, when your teen has their permit, they can’t have any passengers other than an adult. But when they get their permanent license, those restrictions loosen. So, it’s a good idea to set a rule about passengers that stays in place until they turn 18.
Not allowing more than one passenger in the car with your teen is a good rule of thumb.
Set Some Ground Rules Around Music, Eating, and Drinking
If you’ve ever gotten so into a song that you drifted over into the other lane, dropped food in your lap, or spilled a drink while driving, you know how dangerous and distracting these things can be.
Set some ground rules around music, eating, and drinking to keep your teen safe while driving. For example, only allow them to turn up the music to a certain volume. And restrict them from eating and drinking while they drive. If they want to do either, they have to pull over.
Establish Boundaries Around Nighttime Driving
One thing teenagers love to do is hang out with their friends and enjoy the nightlife. Obviously, they shouldn’t be going to clubs and bars. But there are still parties, bowling, movies, and other recreational activities at night they partake in.
Driving at night can be more dangerous than during the day. Especially when your teen is with friends, getting into the things teenagers do.
Establish some boundaries around nighttime driving. Start with not allowing nighttime driving at all. Then, as your teen proves they’re a responsible driver, you can adjust your rules for driving at night, whether it’s confined to only going to certain places, coming home at a specific time, or not having any passengers.
Reward Responsible Driving
Responsible driving isn’t always fun. And getting a teenager to do the right thing on their own is tough too. So, when they do the right and responsible thing regarding driving, reward them for it.
Figure out what would motivate your teen to keep driving responsibly and give it to them. For example, maybe your teen hopes to buy a new car when they turn 18. You could put money in that savings account every month they go without an accident or driving incident.
When it’s time for your teen to start driving, it can be scary. Accidents can happen, and you can’t be with them all the time to ensure they’re doing the right thing. Still, they have to learn. So, do everything you can to ensure they become a responsible driver, starting with the tips above.
You might also be interested in: 35 Gifts For A Sweet Sixteen Year Old