Most parents dread the day when their teenagers finally begin driving. And for good reason! Every year, 6,000 teens die in accidents, and thousands more are injured. Car accidents are the number one killer of teenagers, and surprisingly, drinking and driving isn’t even the main reason. A study done by Allstate Foundation found that the common causes of accidents caused by teenagers were: driver error, speeding, and distractions such as cell phones, texting, loud music, and other teenage passengers. Lack of experience can also contribute to accidents. Usually the longer a person has been behind the wheel, he or she is better equipped to handle unexpected circumstances. So what can you, as a parent, do to help your teen? Experts recommend the following:
1. Set the right example. If your teen observes you practicing unsafe driving techniques, he or she will probably do likewise.
2. Everyone must wear seat belts at all times.
3. No distractions! That means no applying makeup while driving and avoiding cell phone use.
4. Absolutely no alcohol or drugs are permitted.
5. Avoid driving after 10 P.M. when many accidents occur.
6. Obey all traffic signals and laws.
7. Know who your teens hang out with. Many accidents occur when friends are in the car, because drivers are influenced by peer pressure. They are more likely to follow dangerous suggestions like racing or speeding. A 16-year-old with three or more passengers faces nearly three times the risk of having a fatal car crash as when driving alone.
The single most important way parents can keep their kids safe is by being involved. Strictly enforce rules and follow through with consequences if they are not obeyed. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 66% of kids in car fatalities aren't wearing seatbelts! So with proper instruction and building good habits, your teen can be a safer driver. And you will have peace of mind too!