When your teen starts driving, it can be an emotional and stressful experience. As adults, we are aware of the many potential risks, and it’s daunting to think about your child facing them each day on the road. Rather than worrying, use your energy to set a good example and talk to your teen about how to drive safely.
Speak Out About Speeding
When it comes to speeding, it is crucial to set a good example for your teen. If you tend to go over the speed limit, your kid won’t think much of it. Rein in your own lead foot, and you’ll make a huge difference. Of course, talking about the danger of speeding goes a long way too, so have that talk and have it often. If safety issues don’t seem to be sinking in, bring up the practicalities by explaining just how costly insurance and speeding tickets will be, as well. Consider putting an app on your phone that will notify you when your teen is driving too fast. Finally, avoid providing teens with “sleep, high-performance vehicles” as the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests they may encourage a young driver to speed.
Place Parameters on Passengers
All states have a graduated driver licensing policy that sets a limit on how many passengers young drivers can have. In Illinois, they can only have one person under age 20 in the car, unless the additional passenger is a sibling or child of the driver. If you prefer your teen not have any passengers until they’ve driven a certain length of time and proven responsibility, don’t be afraid to set rules and harsh penalties should they be broken. The consequences of not enforcing limitations can be deadly: According to the AAP: “More than half of children age 8 to 17 who die in vehicle crashes are killed as passengers of drivers younger than age 20.”
Delete Digital Distractions
We adults realize that talking, texting and posting to Instagram or Snapchat are all dangerous things to do while driving, and most teens realize it on some level, but many still have the belief of “it won’t happen to me.” Setting a good example is paramount in this situation, too. If you answer a call while driving, tell the caller you’ll have to call them back later unless it is truly urgent. Otherwise, make the car a phone-free zone. If that doesn’t do the trick, consider installing an app on your teen’s phone that will prohibit them from using their phone while behind the wheel. They can still use it to call you or dial 911 in an emergency. Vehicles equipped with Bluetooth connectivity may also help as the driver’s hands stay on the wheel in the event a call comes through.
Wise Up About Weather
We tend to think about texting and speed being the biggest concerns, but learning how to navigate bad weather conditions is a vital skill for safe driving. Teens should be allowed to drive unsupervised only in good weather during their first months of being licensed. With more experience, they can drive unsupervised–but gradually so–in other conditions. If your teen takes drivers education in the summer, consider enrolling them in a refresher course in the winter. Some private driving schools even offer specialized “adverse weather” driving classes, which are a worthwhile investment.
Before your teen begins driving on his own, be sure to discuss specific laws within your state, as well. For instance, Illinois has a graduated driving program, as well as strict curfews and limited driving hours for younger drivers. Want more information on driving safety? Healthychildren.org has some helpful advice for parents with teen drivers.
For any questions or concerns regarding your child’s health and safety, contact us to today.