A driver’s license is a rite of passage for any teenager, yet it comes with a lot of responsibility. Teen drivers are historically more at risk for crashes than other segments of the population. According to the CDC, motor vehicle crashes are the second top cause of death for teens in the U.S. Every day in 2018, seven teens between the ages of 13 and 19 died from motor vehicle crashes, with hundreds more injured.
You as the parent can instill safe driving habits in your teens, in order to minimize not only serious crashes that result in injury, but accidents that require costly auto body repair. Here are a few ways you can help your teen become a safer driver.
Practice With Them
Practice makes perfect is a saying that is certainly true behind the wheel. Take your teen out on practice drives frequently. Driver’s education school can only provide so much instruction. It’s up to you to take them out in addition to that and give them a chance to practice the skills they are learning. Take them out around the neighborhood and empty parking lots, progressing to local roads and highways as their confidence – and yours – builds.
Vary the Driving Conditions
Once they have mastered the basic skills required to drive and park during the day, it’s time to switch things up a bit. Take them driving at night, on back country roads, on main roads, during rush hour in bumper-to-bumper traffic, on busy highways, at dusk, and in rainy weather. Placing more trust in them to navigate challenging situations will only help prepare them for the real world when they finally have their license and won’t have you sitting beside them.
Keep Distractions to a Minimum
Even the best drivers have trouble concentrating on the road when there are distractions present. Set some ground rules at first, such as no driving with groups of friends, no listening to the radio, and no phones in the front seat. Distracted driving is one of the top causes of accidents, and for teens, that number is higher because of the lure of their smart phones sitting within reach.
Speaking of setting your own rules, many states have graduated licensing laws whereby the teen driver cannot drive anyone else in the vehicle besides a family member, or they can’t be out past a certain time at night, such as midnight. Those are great laws but once those run out, you can set your own rules to extend them or institute additional restrictions.
Teach Them Maintenance
Take an afternoon to teach your teen all about routine car maintenance and how to perform certain tasks, such as checking tire air pressure, and topping off oil and windshield-wiper fluids. This is also a good time to show them how to change a tire if they’re ever stranded on the side of the road. Enroll them in a roadside assistance club if you can for additional peace of mind.
Rules of the Road
Set your own “rules of the road” for your child, such as:
- No eating or drinking when driving.
- Keep music at a low to moderate volume.
- Everyone must wear a seat belt at all times.
- No driving at night.
- Staying within a certain distance of home.
- Only driving to and from work or school.
- No talking on a phone when driving – even with the use of hands-free options and voice recognition due to inexperienced driving.
- No texting when driving.
- Pull over before accessing GPS and loading directions.
You can set your own consequences for what happens when your teen driver breaks any of the above rules. Penalties can range from taking the keys away for a week to grounding, and stern warnings for minor offenses. Repeated violations can cost them more – it’s all up to you to set the rules and enforce them.
As parents, you have a duty to protect your child, their passengers and anyone else they encounter while driving. Teaching them the basics of safe driving will go a long way toward preventing serious accidents. Of course, fender benders, collisions and serious accidents do occur no matter how careful your teen is. The key is to be prepared.
Contact Hance’s Uptown Collision Center
If your teen has been in an accident and requires auto body repair, contact us in Dallas or Plano today to set up an appointment.