What Parents Can Do to Protect Their Teen Drivers

With Teen Driver Safety Week set for Nov. 17-23 – and the dangerous holiday driving period approaching – this is an excellent time for parents to sit down with their children and discuss the awesome responsibility that comes with getting behind the wheel.

Traffic crashes are the No. 1 killer of teenagers, according to the Georgia Department of Transportation.In 2012, Georgia reported 158 drivers 20 and under were involved in fatal crashes, compared to 1,499 age 21 and above, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

While the number of teen deaths has declined in recent years, too many teens are still getting involved in accidents that could be averted if the young drivers have proper training and stay focused on the task of driving.

Teenagers are the most likely drivers to be distracted, according to distraction.gov. That’s why states such as Georgia prohibit teens from any use of cell phones, including texting and talking, while they’re behind the wheel.

A good discussion between parents and teens about safe driving practices during the holidays could go a long way toward making sure young drivers arrive alive.

The National Safety Council offers these tips for parents:

  • Because driving is a learning process, graduated driver’s licensing helps. In the first two years, teens should have a driving curfew. Nothing good happens after midnight. Young drivers typically aren’t allowed to have more than one passenger in the vehicle, either, unless they are family members. In other words, a car full of teens significantly increases the risk of an accident.
  • Require your teenager to practice driving a lot. Have them start off driving during daylight hours, then add practice periods at night and in bad weather.
  • Understand the risks your child will face when driving. Increasing practice time, cutting the number of passengers and keeping nighttime driving to a minimum will help your teen driver stay alive.
  • Require your teenager and passengers to wear seat belts at all time. It’s the law, and it will keep them safer during an accident.
  • Do not allow teens to use a cell phone while driving. Texting is considered to be as dangerous as drunk driving, and talking on a cell phone diverts attention from the roadway as well.
  • Set clear and reasonable rules for your teen driver and make sure they follow them. Set up a written agreement outlining your expectations and the penalties. Use consequences, such as loss of driving privileges, if they violate the agreement.
  • Stay vigilant. Even if your teen has taken driver’s education and avoided accidents and speeding tickets during the first year, don’t stop communicating your expectations. It will keep him or her from getting overly confident behind the wheel.
  • Recognize that teen car crashes are the No. 1 killer of teens, claiming the lives of thousands of young drivers nationwide each year. Parents are more likely to discuss the dangers of drinking, smoking and drug use than the danger of motor vehicle crashes, according to The Allstate Foundation.
  • Go to websites as driveithome.org to find more information about teen driver safety.

Good parenting often means strong communication. Letting your children know you care about their safety will encourage them to listen as you teach them about the responsibilities they face when they turn the key. Don’t allow your children to become another car accident statistic.