The Scary Truth About Teen Drivers, and How You Can Keep Them Safe
This life-saving advice can help prevent young drivers from becoming a statistic
Teenagers can drive you crazy. When they get behind the wheel for the first time, they can drive you crazy with worry —and for good reason: Car crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens according to the National Safety Council (NSC). Summer can be especially dangerous. A spike in deaths occurs between Memorial Day and Labor Day— what the NSC calls the 100 deadliest days for teens on the road.
What can a parent do? Before your young driver gets behind the wheel, get into his head. Make him aware of the serious statistics about teen drivers, and help him learn to make wise decisions as he starts driving.
Startling stats that will make them think twice
Tell your teen that car crashes are the number one cause of teen deaths — and some of the reasons behind that sad fact.
One reason is that teens are less likely than other age groups to wear seat belts. More than half of teenagers killed in crashes are not wearing a seat belt, the NSC reports.
Another reason is drunk driving. One quarter of teen driver fatalities involved an underage drinker,according to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration survey. When you talk to your teen about drunk driving, cite statistics, show examples and use real-life stories to illustrate just how dangerous getting behind the wheel of a car is when you have any amount of alcohol in your system.
A third reason is texting. A quarter of teens text more than once every time they get behind the wheel. More than 3,000 people were killed in distracted-driving–related incidents in 2012 alone according to the government’s website on distracted driving.Teach your kids an “LOL” or a “BRB” isn’t worth risking their lives.
How you can keep your teen safe
Consider a technology solution. Technology can help you keep an eye on your teen while she’s driving. Some examples include:
- Truvolo reports information back to parents on whether their teen is driving safely, if the car needs gas, why a check engine light came on and more.
- The Ford MyKey program can edit radio volume, enforce seat belt requirements, set a maximum speed and send alerts when the car is low on fuel.
- The OnStar Family Link system allows you to track your teen throughout a trip, lets you know when the vehicle has reached a destination and can help you locate a car if you ca’nt reach the driver.
- Sprint Drive First sends calls to voicemail when the car is going more than 10 mph and automatically replies to texts saying that you can’t answer because you’re driving.
Consider signing the New Driver Deal, an agreement between you and your teen from DriveitHOME, an initiative of the NSC. It allows you to set your expectations and rules, as well as consequences for what will happen if rules are broken.
Spend time with your teen in the car. Even after he gets his license, spend at least 30 minutes a week with your teen while he’s driving. Inexperience is a killer — the first 1,000 miles and the first 12 months your teen drives are among the riskiest driving periods of their lives.
Teach them about routine car maintenance. This includeshow to put air in the tires, how to replenish windshield wiper fluid and when to have the oil changed. Make sure they know to consult with you if something feels off with the car. Their inexperience (and, perhaps, a reluctance to spend money on service) could lead to mechanical problems — and potentially, an accident.
Set rules and stick to them. Your state has laws about teen drivers, and likewise, you should have a set of “rules of the road” for your family. Don’t want her out after a certain hour? Don’t want him driving in certain areas? Don’t want her driving with friends in the car? These are things your teen should know before turning the key for that first trek. Outline what you expect – and be firm. Let him know what the consequences will be if those expectations are not met, and follow through if they’re not.