Sr. Director of Advocacy, National Safety Council
Getting a license is one of the most exciting moments in a teen’s life — yet one of the most frightening for parents.
The numbers don’t lie: car crashes are the No. 1 killer of teens. Half of all teens will be involved in a crash before high school graduation. Fortunately, parents are the biggest influence on teen driving habits, so the more lessons you can teach your teen, the safer he or she will be on the road.
Here are four tips to get you started:
1. Use technology
To avoid distracted driving, your teen can use apps and phone settings to block calls and texts while driving. Parents, meanwhile, can use car safety features to set speed, distance and even stereo volume limits in their teen’s car. These high-tech options can help your teen stay safe, but always be honest when enabling them so that your teen feels involved.
2. Prepare ahead of time
Create an agreement with your teen on driving rules and limits. This can include details on curfews, passengers and even who pays for gas and insurance. Make it a discussion, not a declaration, so your teen is more likely to stick to the agreement.
3. Limit passengers
A single teen passenger increases your teen driver’s crash risk by 44 percent, so your teen should avoid driving anyone around, even younger siblings, for six months to a year after getting a license. It may not be convenient, but it is crucial to keep your teen safe.
4. Practice what you preach
Teens crash most often because they are inexperienced and don’t understand the dangers of cell phone distraction, impairment and fatigue, but you can show them how to drive safely. The more you set the example and avoid these driving risks yourself, the more likely your teen is to avoid them, as well.
You may worry about your teen driving alone, but the more you discuss risks, practice driving and coach him or her ahead of time, the safer they will be.