Top tips for helping your teen become a safe driver for National Teen Driver Safety Week
Have a teen ready to hit the road? It’s an exciting rite of passage – but often nerve-wracking for Mom or Dad. There are a few things you can do before handing over the keys to help set and reinforce important safety rules and safe driving behaviors with your teen.
Every day six teens are killed in vehicle crashes, the leading cause of death for teens in the United States
said Corri Miller-Hobbs, registered nurse and Safe Kids Virginia program coordinator. “A less-frightening fact is that teens report less risky behavior when they have a formal agreement with their families about expectations related to driving. This agreement is among the many ways parents and other trusted adults can help teens develop safe and responsible driving habits.”
More details on a formal driving agreement and other parent-teen safety practices:
Seat belts should be worn by every person in the vehicle – front and back seat – on every ride. This is a good practice to instill in kids when they’re young so it’s a habit by the time they’re driving on their own.
Put the phone down and avoid distracted driving
Texting while driving takes your attention off the road for an average of five seconds. A lot can happen in five seconds! Making or answering a telephone call is also distracting. If the phone is too much of a temptation, keep it in a purse or center console so it’s out of sight. No text or phone call is worth risking a life.
Discuss the dangers of drugs and alcohol
Remind your teen that not only are drug use and underage drinking illegal, but driving under the influence can have deadly consequences. Other serious consequences can include injuries, fines, legal fees, jail time and loss of their driver’s license, among others. It can also impact their future in profound ways including limiting college and career opportunities.
In addition to behind-the-wheel practice, learning to drive includes studying the rules of the road. From speed limits to seat belts, cell phones and signs/road markings, there is a lot to stay on top of. Review the current laws with your teen regularly – even after they earn their driver’s license.
Spend time with your teen
Virginia law requires 45 hours of practice with an experienced driver, 15 of which must be after sunset. If your child needs more time, don’t stop there! Give them your undivided attention for as many hours as they need to drive safely and comfortably.
Make an agreement
Create a formal agreement with your teen driver so everyone is on the same page about expectations, family rules and consequences that will be enforced. Here’s an example of a parent-teen driving agreement that you can use or modify for your family. While consequences are important, so is ensuring your teen that you’re there for them. Encourage them to speak up if they feel unsafe and review alternative options for getting to their destination.
Set a good example
Set a good example for your teen by being a safe driver yourself. Make sure your seat belt is on, your eyes are on the road and your cell phone is down every time you drive. Follow safety laws, including obeying the speed limit. Your teen is more likely to respect your instructions if you’re following them too!