Teens are the most inexperienced and dangerous drivers on the road. Teaching them to drive cautiously and responsibly, while founding driving rules are essential in helping your teen become a safe driver. According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), “In 2003, teens were involved in 1.7 million vehicle crashes nationwide.”
Cell phones and friends are common distractions that can lead to accidents, but there are other factors affecting teen drivers like sleep deprivation, alcohol use and not wearing seat belts. “Teens are twice as likely to be involved in a fatal accident as older drivers,” says a report by the NTSB. As a parent, you can set particular rules, in addition to supporting driving laws, to help your child stay safe on the road.
Before you teen begins to drive on a regular basis with a certified driver’s license, sign a contract. Liberty Mutual Insurance Company recommends building a strong basis of rules by designing a contract that both the teen and parents sign. On their website they provide the means of creating this contract that will provide a clear description of what is expected and how the teen driver agrees to behave behind the wheel.
The contract on Liberty Mutual’s website, which was established by SADD (Students Against Drunk Drivers) can be used to establish the parents’ expectations of the teen’s driving habits.
Encourage your teen driver to avoid speeding. Driving too fast is very common among teens and is perhaps the easiest traffic law to break. However, if parents explain the dangers of speeding (whether the teen is the driver or not), they will help the young driver understand the safety issue.
One of the first topics on the contract is speeding because it is so important. Not only does the teen need to agree to refrain from speeding, but he or she is also required to promise not to ride in a car with anyone else who speeds.
Require your teen to always wear a seat belt. Whether your child is driving or not, the teen needs to agree to always wear a seat belt. If the teen driver is old enough to have passengers in the vehicle, you must insist that they passengers where seat-belts too. Remind your teen repeatedly that he or she must wear a seat belt even as a passenger.
Always set limits on passengers. You and your teen driver must agree on a set number of teens as passengers. The number of teens is ultimately up to the parents, but the amount should not exceed the number of seat belts that are in the car.
Set a curfew. There should be a clear set hour when the teen will need to be home. According to Youth Development.org, accidents involving teens driving after 10 p.m. increase. The statistics increase even more after midnight. Make sure your teen abides by the set curfew and be sure to enforce it.
Never let your teen drink and drive. It is illegal for teenagers to drink alcohol. If your teen driver drinks and drive you must administer a severe punishment because driving under the influence at any age can be fatal.
Agree that texting and driving is just as bad as drinking and driving. Make sure your young driver accepts this as a rule in your contract because it is very important to his or her safety, along with others on the road.
Actively help your teen avoid being overtired. Teenagers are busy and often they need to be reminded that they need adequate sleep. Driving while tired has shown to be just as dangerous as driving under the influence or texting and driving.
Create definite agreements against using any drugs or alcohol. While some teens may drink it is imperative that they understand if they do, they are not allowed drive. In addition your teen will not be in a car with a driver who has used drugs or alcohol.
Go over all distractions. Things like using cell phones, eating, and other distracting activities should be avoided while driving.
Lay out the rules regarding the finances. Costs such as gas, insurance, maintenance, tickets and accidents are some of the many costs associated with teen driving. Be clear on who will pay for each item.