Educating Teenage Drivers

Teen talking on cell phoneTeens and drugs. Teens and gangs. Teens and alcohol. They’re all huge worries for parents.

But there’s an even bigger risk out there: teens and automobiles.

Highway safety experts recognize that the scientific research is indisputable. Driving is the greatest risk to all teenagers, in all locations, and in all demographic and economic groups.

Car crashes take more young lives than all other causes, and teenagers die in car crashes in larger proportion than any other driving group. Most of the fatal crashes and serious injuries come in the very early months of unsupervised driving, AFTER young teens have finished driver’s training, AFTER they’ve spent time driving with their parents, AFTER they have passed the state driving tests.

What can parents do to protect their youngest drivers?

  1. Be aware that this is the most dangerous driving time for your teen. Take extra precautions during the first six months.
  2. Help your teens develop the right habits during the first six months of solo driving. Let them know right away these are the rules:
    • Use of safety belts is mandatory
    • No teen passengers initially
    • Night driving will be limited
    • Protect against drowsy driving
    • No distractions such as text messaging
    • Speeding must be expressly prohibited; since most new drivers don’t have the experience to handle vehicles at high speeds, it’s the source of many deaths and injuries
    • No alcohol or drug use
  3. Plan to provide your teen with extra practice time in a variety of weather conditions so they can gain experience and confidence.
  4. Set a good driving example:
    • Always wear your safety belt
    • Don’t speed
    • Practice defensive driving
    • Don’t use your cell phone
    • Don’t run red lights
    • Don’t drink and drive
  5. Develop a parent-teen driving contract. Many states and other jurisdictions also have sample parent-teen driving agreements.
  6. Reinforce state graduated licensing programs so teens must have a longer period of supervised driving and more restrictions in the early months.

For more teen safe driving information from GEICO visit geico.com.

By Christine Tasher

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  1. Smitty says

    These are all great tips. I’d like to add a couple more.

    When a teen gets their license, I wish parents would walk through the “what if” scenarios of a break-down, flat tire, locking keys in the car or – if you live in a snowy climate like St Paul Minnesota – if your teen ends up in a snow bank. Research shows that 95% of drivers break down once in their life, but even more scary for teen drivers is that fact that 73% of young drivers broke down last year.

    If you don’t talk about “what to do when this occurs” before it happens, your teen is likely to call a friend for help before calling you! Find a reliable tow truck company in your town and put their phone number in your teen’s phone. Tell your teen to call that tow truck company if they have a flat tire, they lock their keys in the car, the car won’t start or they end up in a snow bank. Once the tow truck is on the way, the next call they should make is to you.

    And this leads to tip #2. Teach them to beware of “tow truck bandits.” These “bandit” tow truck operators troll the highways, stalk parking lots and monitor police radios to find accidents looking for vehicles they can tow body shops or storage facilities where the cars are held hostage until the vehicle’s owner and their insurance companies pay inflated towing, storage and maybe even repair charges (which you may not have authorized) to get the vehicle back.

    It is easy to fall victim to a tow truck bandit when you’re stranded on the side of the road. You call a tow truck. Minutes later a tow truck pulls up behind you. You assume it’s the one you called. NOT necessarily. It may be a tow truck bandit. Tell your teen to look at the tow truck and make sure the name matches the one you told them to call. If it’s anyone else, tell your teen to stay in their car, with the doors locked. Roll the window down about an inch and tell the bandit that you already have help on the way.

    These two tips, along with those above, will serve your teen very well.

  2. leon piacun says

    IT HAS BEEN SAID THAT THE ELDERLY ARE THE ONE TO BE CAUTIOUS OR AWARE OF ON THE ROAD. I HAVE BEEN DRIVING MANY YEARS AND AM VERY CAREFUL OF MY SELF ON DRIVING. THESE YOUNGSTERS ARE HAZARD IN MANY WAYS SUCH AS; CELLPHONES AND MANY OF THEM AS WELL AS OTHERS LOOK AT STOP SIGNS AS A DECORATION THE SAME AS SIGNALING MOVING FROM ONE LANE TO THE OTHER. THE SIGNAL IS ALSO A DECORATIVE PIECE TO LOOK AT ON THE STEERING WHEEL. I HAVE BEEN VERY FORTUNATE IN MY TIME AS A DRIVER. I FIND THAT I DRIVE FOR MYSELF AS WELL AS THE OTHER DRIVERS ON THE ROAD. THE WORD COURTEOUS,IS
    SOMETHING ELSE THEY ARE NOT AWARE OF. RESPECTFULLY LEON. I HAVE MORE BUT I RAN OUT OF ROOM TO ADD MUCH MORE.

  3. Stephen Marth says

    Before a new licensed driver is given a license at DMV they should have to sign a statement that states driving offences and the penelties for each violation which include DWI DUI
    Talking or texting on phone and each of these should have license revoked for not less than 3 years with this in mind and having signed statement at DMV this may deter that type of action hopefully in most cases. Remember lives will be saved with stricter enforced laws.