School is back in full swing! Many of you may have teen drivers who drive themselves to school this year, and it is essential that they understand how to stay safe on the road. Car accidents are the leading cause of death for teens in the U.S., and teens are involved in fatal accidents at three times the rate of adult drivers. Make sure your teens know basic road, car, and passenger safety while they’re commuting to school this year.
Set the rules of the road with your child before they even get behind the wheel. Aside from the existing laws governing teen driving habits, establish personal safety standards that your child must adhere to in order to maintain driving privileges. For example, set a curfew after school or work by which time your child must be home or at least call to check in to let you know where they are, what they’re doing, and who they’re with. Many states have laws that prevent teens from driving with underage passengers in their car without a licensed adult; make sure your child follows this to reduce the chance of distracted driving (and the temptation to show off). It seems strict, but you may even consider setting a weekly mileage limit for your teen to discourage cruising and other distracting behaviors behind the wheel.
Make sure your teen has the basics of car safety down: they should always wear their seat belts (and require any passengers to do so, as well), make sure their mirrors are properly positioned, and put away cell phones before they even start the car. Cell phones pose a particular danger on the road, as texting and driving can have catastrophic consequences. Consider installing an app on your teen’s phone that prevents texting while driving. AT&T’s DriveMode, Textecution, and DriveScribe all either detect your car’s speed and disable texting, or read text message out loud as they come in to discourage distraction.
Finally, work with your teen on a regular basis to review and reinforce the state and federal laws regarding teen driving. Make sure they know the consequences of breaking these laws, and have a plan in place to deal with speeding tickets and other citations they may receive. Establish parameters under which they may lose their driving privileges if they break these laws, and enforce them consistently.
Watching your teen child drive away is never easy on the heart or nerves, but following these basic driving safety tips can help put your mind at ease and keep your teen safe on the road. Even if they think it’s strict now, someday they will be thankful that you insisted they stay safe and helped them develop into conscientious and mindful drivers.