Alice Cooper may have said it best: School's Out For Summer. Your teen's out of school, which means they're spending more time on the road; this makes the Summer months some of the most dangerous for teen drivers. And the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has found that motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for teens. So what can you do as a parent? Here are 4 recommendations that you can use to lower your child's risk behind the wheel.
1. Tighten the belt...the seatbelt, that is.
You'd think it would go without saying, but tell them again: wear your seatbelt. Though they've been commonplace in automobiles since the late 1950s, one in seven people still do not wear a seatbelt. A recent NHTSA study found that seatbelt use was lower in 16-24 year olds, than any other age group. But seatbelts remain one of the most effective ways to prevent injuries and death during a crash, reducing the chances of serious injury and death by up to 50%. So in talking with your new driver, emphasize the importance of buckling up on every trip, no matter how short, and lead by example yourself.
2. Three's a crowd.
3. Nothing good happens after dark.We've all been there: as soon I got home with my new license, I dropped my mom off and set out to pick up as many buddies as I could fit in the hand-me-down station wagon that was my first car. As much as I hate to rain on the parade of this right of passage, friends are distractions (and typically bad influences, but that's a different story!). Studies have shown, the more passengers in a vehicle, the higher the level of distraction and the risk of a fatal crash, and the risk goes up with each passenger you add.
3. Be in before curfew.
I must have heard my mom say this a few times every month, usually coinciding with the weekend. And not to be a buzzkill again, but most of the time, she had a point. Now this was before graduated licensing programs, so you may have help from your local DMV and sherrif's office in giving your teen a driving curfew. But they limit night driving for new drivers for good reason. From lower visibility, to an increase in the number of drunk or tired drivers on the road, a teens chance of fatality increases at night. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a teen's chance of fatality behind the wheel increases nearly four times at night.
4. Be a BFF and stop DWD.
All of us have been conditioned to be glued to our phones. The phone rings, you answer it, plain and simple. My sisters and I used to race to see who could answer the phone first, or see what messages were on the machine. As a society, our attachment to the phone has only increased. Now there are so many other devices we have the option to be glued to. Add that to the technology now available in cars on the market today, and there's a plethora of technology at your fingertips when you're behind the wheel..and it's all deadly. Texts, selfies, SnapChats, Instagram, and each new latest app represents a danger to your teen. Let's say your teen is driving down the highway at 55 mph, every second their eyes are reading a text and not on the road, they travel the length of a football field. The dangers are real and the statistics are staggering. According to Distraction.gov, teens, more than any other age group, are more likely to be distracted behind the wheel. According to Distraction.gov, nearly 430,000 people are injured or killed as a result of distracted driving. No text is worth it, so have them put the phone down, and once again, you need to lead by example. Also be sure they know as a passenger, that it's their responsibility to keep their driving friends accountable as well.
Hopefully you found our four tips insightful. So take some time now, and talk with your teen drivers about the importance of safety behind the wheel. And share these tips with other parents and friends who need to read them!