Teens 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?
- Be aware that this is the most dangerous driving time for your teen. Take extra precautions during the first six months.
- 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
- Plan to provide your teen with extra practice time in a variety of weather conditions so they can gain experience and confidence.
- 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
- Develop a parent-teen driving contract. Many states and other jurisdictions also have sample parent-teen driving agreements.
- 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