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Teen Driver Safety Tips for Every Parent

As a rite of passage, tossing the car keys to your teenager is both a proud and nerve wracking moment for every parent. How your teen successfully navigates the roads is the culmination of setting good examples, many lessons, firm boundaries, and a little faith in their good sense.

But there is cause for a parent’s concern. The alarming statistics show that car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the United States, taking the lives of eight teens a day.  The highest risk group of being in a car accident are drivers aged 16 to 19, and this risk is much higher during the first year teenagers are on the road.

Why Are Teens More Accident Prone Behind the Wheel?

With the combination of high energy, risk taking and less experience, studies show teenagers tend to underestimate hazardous driving conditions, are overconfident and are less able than older drivers to recognize a dangerous situation. They are also more likely to speed, tailgate and not use their seatbelt. Along with the increasing distractions of modern technology in vehicles, the result is many parents feeling anxious when they’re teenager pulls out of the driveway.

Studies show that it only takes a distraction of four seconds to cause an accident. The U.S. Department of Transportation defines distracted driving in three categories:

Visual – taking your eyes off the road; Manual – taking your hands off the wheel; and Cognitive – taking your mind off what you’re doing. With more distractions in today’s cars constantly pulling attention off the road, it’s little wonder several state governments have passed legislation that prohibits texting while driving, and others are reviewing legislation that will make it illegal to use hand-held devices.

What Can Parents Do?

A parent’s own recklessness or caution behind the wheel will be observed from an early age, like many of your other behaviours. Appreciate the impact your own driving has on your teenager, from the years leading up to 16. Be observant and diligent to practice safe driving habits, and start talking to your child about driving techniques when they’re young.

  • Invest in professional lessons so they’ll learn defensive techniques and safe habits from a respected expert other than their parents, who they might tune out.
  • Provide driving lessons from both parents in addition to formal lessons, as an important opportunity for aligning the teen’s driving habits to their expectations and family rules. It also gives the parent an opportunity to assess their teen’s ability and skills.
  • The average U.S. teen now processes hundreds of texts per month. Do not allow the use of cell phones or texting while your teen is driving. This can be enforced with a written agreement and consequences clearly stated. Further restrictions can simply be the teen having to leave their tech devices at home when they take the car.
  • Hit home the message of dangerous driving with online resources and campaigns. Concerned parents have a lot of help if they utilize what’s already available such as the national “Parents are the Key Campaign” by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which informs parents about the key role they can, and should play in protecting their teen drivers.
  • Don’t allow other teen passengers in the car with them until you feel confident, and then keep the number of passengers restricted to one at a time.
  • Teach your teen how to handle stormy and winter driving conditions, such as how to get out of a skid and handling driving in snow. Empty parking lots and quiet roads are ideal for practice.
  • Show them how to be on the diligent lookout for pedestrians, cyclists and animals by scanning the road, shoulder checking and using their mirrors.
  • Coach them on the maintenance of vehicles, such as tire care and proper inflation, regular maintenance, showing them the auto manual and basic mechanics, so they feel confident.

Instilling safe driving habits in your teen is beneficial for everyone on the road, and will help you rest a bit easier.

This is a guest post from Anne Fleming of Women-Drivers.com™

Now women are more empowered thanks to the #1 resource that connects them to Certified Women-Drivers Friendly™ car dealerships in the United States. Don’t buy your next car without checking this site out and learn more about Her & His Car reviews, dealer reviews, and all the educational tips and tools you need for an informed purchase to get the best deal. Visit Women-Drivers and download your free copy of Women’s No Stress Guide to Buying a Car.

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