The summer months are a time for teens to exercise more freedom, make some money at a summer job or just relax and hang out with friends and family. Unfortunately, the summer months are also considered the most deadly driving months of the year. Past years have shown a 43 percent increase in crash related deaths compared to the rest of the year.
Contrary to popular belief, teens crash most often because they are inexperienced. Their lack of driving experience can make them underestimate dangerous situations. They struggle judging gaps in traffic, driving the right speed for conditions and turning safely, among other things. Now, combine the lack of driving experience with a teen driver who might be impaired, speeding or distracted, and you have a recipe for disaster.
Parents can help your teens stay on track and make safe decisions when they’re behind the wheel. As parents, you are the biggest influencers for your teen drivers, even if you think they aren’t listening.
Here are some ways to help ensure their safety:
1. Practice with them – Sit beside them while they drive, before and after they get their license to check on their progress.
2. Set a good example – You are the #1 influence on your teens driving – drive the way you want them to drive. Your teen drivers will mimic your good behaviors and your bad behaviors.
3. Sign a parent-teen agreement – Having a parent-teen driving agreement that sets family rules against distracted driving and other risky behavior. This sets guidelines and expectations for you and your teen. The best one we came across is found at http://www.countdown2drive.org. Simply answer a few questions and print out the agreement for you both to sign.
4. Let teens earn their privileges – Earning privileges help teens understand the value of responsibility.
5. Talk to other parents – Let others know your rules so they can be enforced even if you’re not around.
6. Have conversations early and often about the dangers of distraction and impaired driving – Distracted driving increases the likelihood of crashing by 23 percent. Take the time to talk with your teen about the dangers of driving impaired, or riding with a driver who is. Be sure to mention all the other risks involved with underage drinking and drug use.
7. Be clear about your expectations – No cell phones while driving, no extra passengers, no speeding, no alcohol, no driving or riding without a seat belt
Parents may not be able to force teenagers to follow the rules when they’re alone in a car, just having rules can help save their lives. BONUS: While you can’t always be in the car with them, you certainly can monitor how they drive while they are on their own. The TrueMotion Family app is free and a simple install on iOS or Android and allows a parent or guardian to see where their teen driver is, how they’re driving and whether they’re driving responsibly.
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