As the parent of a teenager who recently got a license or who will soon be getting their license, you want to make sure that your teen driver is safe behind the wheel. Here are three ways you can help prevent teen driver injuries.
Unfortunately, car accidents are among the most common ways for teenagers to die or sustain serious injuries, and there are a lot of things that you simply don’t have control of when your teen is behind the wheel. You can’t control the weather, other drivers, or even what your teen chooses to do when you’re not there to guide them. However, there are some concrete lessons that you can teach your teen to help prevent deaths and injuries.
Take a look at what your teen needs to know to stay safe behind the wheel.
1. It’s Better to Be Late than to Speed
Everyone is susceptible to the pressure to arrive on time. You probably feel it yourself in the mornings when you’re running late for work – you know that tardiness can have unwanted consequences. Teens know that too. They may get in trouble if they’re late for school, they may risk disappointing friends or missing out on something fun if they’re late for a social engagement, and they may even risk having their pay docked or other disciplinary action taken if they’re late to work.
However, none of those possible consequences for tardiness are worth your teen’s well-being or life.
Make sure that your teen knows that speeding is never worth it. If their only choice is to be late or to drive at unsafe speeds, they should always choose lateness. You can set a good example by following the same rule for yourself – resist the temptation to push the speed limits even when you’re behind schedule, especially when your teen is with you. If you do it, it will be easier for them to justify doing it as well.
If lateness is a frequent problem for your teen, help them work on strategies that will help them improve their punctuality, like setting the alarm earlier or setting out their clothes and supplies for the next day the night before. Feel free to use the same strategies yourself if it improves your punctuality without needing to speed.
2. Turn Cell Phones Off While Driving
Distracted driving can be as dangerous as driving while impaired. One of the biggest distractions that your teen driver is likely to face while they’re on the road is their own cell phone. Teens who are texting, IMing, or emailing while driving are not paying attention to traffic and are more likely to get into an accident. Even talking on the phone can be a dangerous distraction, especially if your teen isn’t using a hands-free device.
One of the easiest ways to eliminate the temptation to use the phone while driving is for your teen to put the phone where they can’t see or reach it while driving. For example, they could put it into the trunk of the car, the floor of the backseat, or in the glove box. It can also help to simply turn the phone off while driving.
However, there are also high-tech solutions to the problem of smartphone use while driving. You can have your teen download an app that prevents texting or calling when it senses that it’s in a vehicle that is in motion. Some of these apps also include a feature that can alert a parent’s phone when the teen attempts to use the phone in a moving vehicle.
Once again, setting a good example is important here as well. Avoid using your phone while you’re driving (it’s not safe for you to do either). You should also make sure that your teen knows that you’d rather them not answer your own call or text than answer while driving. Parents often want their teens to answer or respond to their own calls or texts immediately, but your teen shouldn’t feel pressured to pick up the phone for anyone when they’re driving, even you.
3. Pick a Destination Before Your Teen Driver Leaves
Did you know that your teen’s destination can make a difference in their safety? Accidents are more likely to happen when your teen is just driving for fun than when they’re on their way to a specific destination. That means that you want to discourage driving around for entertainment. Talk to your teen about the importance of having a plan before they get into the car.
- Where are they going?
- What time do they need to arrive by?
- Who’s driving?
- When are they leaving?
- What’s their backup plan in case something doesn’t go according to plan?
Having a plan in place will reduce your teen’s chances of getting into an accident and improve their safety.
Another thing to consider is how your teen driver will find their way to their destination. New drivers especially may need the help of the GPS to find their way to their destination without getting lost. But programming the GPS while driving can be as dangerous as messing around with their phone while driving. Teach your teen how to program their destination into the car’s GPS, and impress upon them the importance of programming it before they pull out of the driveway instead of doing it while they’re driving. This will help reduce distractions while driving and ensure that your teen reaches their intended destination safely.
Becoming a driver is a big deal for both teenagers and their parents, and it should be something to celebrate. It’s a milestone in your teen’s life and a great boost to their independence, and since you’re preparing your teen to become an independent adult, that should be a good thing. It’s going to be much easier to celebrate your teen’s newfound independence and freedom of movement if you can feel confident that they’re following safety precautions that will help keep them as safe as possible when they’re behind the wheel. As a parent, you still have plenty of influence over your teen, so use it to make sure that your teen driver is practicing safe driving habits.
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