It’s happened: your teen is finally old enough to get behind the wheel of a car. It’s your job as a parent to set a good example and teach them the rules of the road. While they can get training and testing through local driving schools, it’s still important to remain a strong example of what a good driver is.
Safety is key, especially when you consider that 16- to 19-year-olds are at the highest risk for car accidents. In fact, in 2011 alone, 2,650 teens in the United States within this age group were killed and nearly 292,000 were treated in emergency departments for injuries they incurred in motor-vehicle crashes, according to the CDC.
Check out these three ways you can teach your teen safe driving.
Be an active partner in your child’s overall driving instruction. Encourage your teen to sign up for driver’s education classes. Not only will these classes teach your teen the rules of the road, you can also typically get a discount on your car insurance and often times, your teen can qualify to get their license up to six months earlier than those who don’t take the classes. Share in this special milestone in your teen’s life by taking them out for test drives during your spare time. Let them show you what they’ve learned in class, and then reinforce those lessons.
Teach your teen what distracted driving can do. Distracted driving involves doing anything other than concentrating on the road. This can range from texting and talking on the phone to eating and even fiddling with the radio. The number of people killed in distraction-related crashes in 2012 totaled 3,328 according to distraction.gov. Make sure your child doesn’t become a statistic by educating them on the effects of texting while driving, eating and drinking, reading maps, watching videos and just generally goofing off. Set rules that your teen’s cell phone, for example, remains in the glove box when they are behind the wheel.
Limit the number of friends they can have in the car and encourage them to map out routes before setting off so they’re not playing with the phone while driving. Perhaps the biggest thing you can do is set an example by avoiding picking up your phone every time an alert goes off or a phone call comes in.
Talk to your teen about what can happen when they drink and drive. There are plenty of educational videos on the Internet to show to your child the devastating effects of drinking and driving — not just to your own child’s life but to innocent bystanders. New drivers don’t typically have the fast reaction time of more seasoned adults and their instincts aren’t as honed. This is why it’s more likely for them to get into accidents while drunk and more likely to die from their injuries.
In 2006 alone, among 15- to 20-year-old drivers involved in fatal car crashes, 31 percent of the drivers who lost their lives had been drinking at the time of the crash, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Make it known that your teen can always feel safe calling you when they’ve had too much to drink and need a ride. It’s far better to scold your child the next morning about the dangers of drinking than to visit your child in the morgue.
If you or your teen have been injured due to someone else’s negligence, it’s important you discuss your case with a car accident attorney in your area to ensure you receive the compensation you need.