Car accidents are the leading cause of death for teens in the U.S. today. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 350,000 teenagers have been injured as a result of vehicle accidents.
Teach Good Driving Habits
Teenagers are most prone to car accidents, injury, and death when they first get their license. Parents should use their experience as drivers to guide their teenagers in forming safe driving behaviors. Staying involved before and after your teenager gets a driver’s license is essential.
Allowing your teens to practice driving skills and providing them with constructive and informative feedback can go a long way toward shaping what kind of driver they will be. Driving classes are also a great resource for learning safe driving habits and practices.
Be patient as your teenager learns how to drive. It takes practice to learn the ins and outs of the road. Most driving skills are learned through experience and can’t be taught in a class or learned from a book. Teaching your kids how to drive in poor or unfavorable weather and traffic conditions is important.
Teach your teenager to limit distractions when behind the wheel. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, distracted driving includes:
- Using a cell phone or smartphone to make calls, text, read emails, browse the internet, etc.
- Eating and drinking
- Talking to passengers
- Using a navigation system
- Adjusting a radio
- Watching videos
In recent years, cell phone use and texting have become the greatest distractions for drivers. Recent studies indicate that people who text and drive lose focus on the road for 5 seconds, a fraction of time that could lead to fatal results. Research also shows that operating a cell phone or smartphone while driving is the equivalent of driving drunk.
Obey the Speed Limit
Stress the importance of obeying posted speed limits. High speed accounts for the majority of teen fatalities on the road. Novice or young drivers do not have the skills or experience to successfully handle a speeding car and can easily lose control. Besides the risk of being in an accident, speeding can result in costly traffic tickets or even a suspended license.
Set the Bar
One of the best ways to encourage safe driving habits in your teenager is to set an example. Convey the message of safety by following traffic laws and refraining from distracting activities and cell phone use while driving. Let your teenager know that driving is not just a privilege but a responsibility that should be taken seriously.