When your teen starts driving, there’s a lot of things you may worry about. Other drivers, road conditions, weather conditions, general safety, and of course, your own teen’s driving habits. While your teen can learn about driving safety through drivers’ ed classes; it’s important that they also hear it from their parents. Much of the research conducted on teens and driving habits suggest that what parents say and do has more of an influence on them than other social influences. Before your teen starts driving, here are five important safety topics to discuss with your teen.
When people talk to teens about distracted driving, they often talk about not using a cell phone while driving. However, there’s many other things that can distract your teen. The FCC reported that distracted driving accounted for 16% of fatal crashes and 21% of injury accidents in 2008 and includes everything from texting, talking on the phone, scrolling through a playlist on an MP3 player, other people in the car, eating, getting ready for school or work, or even being overly tired. It’s important to discuss all of these possible distractions with your teen driver.
Driving Under the Influence or Riding With Someone Under Influence
This is one of the most important discussions to have. Automobile accidents are the leading cause of death among teens, with one-third of those deaths being alcohol-related, according to the organization Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration shares tips on how to have this conversation with your teen.
Don’t Wait for the “Right” Time—It’s always a good time to talk to your kids about the dangers of impaired driving. Common situations you can take advantage of to discuss drunk and drug-impaired driving include:
- When your child asks to borrow the car;
- When you’re at the dinner table together;
- When your child asks if he or she can ride with a friend to school/a concert/a party;
- When you’re running weekend errands;
- When you’re at the grocery store; and
- When you and your child are in the car together.Reinforce Expectations—Make sure your children know what you expect from them when it comes to impaired driving. Let them know it’s never okay to get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle while under the influence, and that getting in a car with someone who has been drinking or using drugs is also dangerous.
Help Them Build an Exit Plan—Some kids may not know what to do if a friend or family member who is under the influence of alcohol or other drugs offers them a ride. Explain to your child that it’s okay to say no, and help them think through an exit strategy. For example, you can suggest:
- Calling a rideshare service or taxi;Calling a relative or friend for a ride home;
- Staying the night at their current location; and
- Convincing the person under the influence not to drive.
- Mention that drunk and drug-impaired driving is illegal and unsafe and suggest they find another way home.Show Them You Care—Kids are more likely to listen when they know you’re on their side. Make sure they know that you’re talking to them about impaired driving because you care about their safety, not because you assume they would ever drive drunk or drug-impaired.
It is the nature of being a teen to want to hang out with friends, which means they will often have passengers. It’s important that you not only work with them to get them used to having other riders, but also to talk to them about the responsibility they have to the safety of their passengers. Make sure they know that they are legally responsible to ensure that everyone is using their seatbelts and is secure. Further, they as the driver should ensure that their passengers reduce distractions while they are driving rather than adding to it.
Obeying Traffic Laws
This one seems both obvious and unnecessary, but it’s so easy for a new driver to forget about all the processes while they are driving. It’s important to regularly talk with them to remind and encourage good driving habits while avoiding things like speeding, rolling through stop signs, and forgetting about proper driving habits in weather conditions. Taking the time to remind them about these safe driving habits can save their life in the long run.
Protecting the Vehicle and its Contents
It’s so easy for new drivers to forget about the safety of their car and the stuff in it when first starting to drive. They may find it unnecessary or forget to lock their doors, especially if they are driving in areas they know like their school, their neighborhood, or other familiar spots. It’s important to remind them to lock their car doors no matter where they are. Thieves look for the easiest targets which include cars with valuables in sight and unlocked vehicles. Talk with your teen about developing a quick habit to do a quick scan for anything that might be tempting to a thief and either take it with you or stow it in the glove box or under a seat.
This information is brought to you by local State Farm Agent, Ed Underwood. Click here to get a quote or call 615-771-0700 to get information on adding your teen to your insurance plan. Like Ed Underwood on Facebook!