Teen drivers are at high risk for crashing. During the first few months of having a license and driving on their own, their statistical risk of accident is extremely high, and while it goes down some after the first few months, it still remains that almost half of teens get in an accident. So, what can you do to crash proof your teens? Consider the following:
1. Set rules that are fair.
Teens are not going to follow your rules if they are unfair, but plenty of research has shown that teens with parents who set strict limits on driving privileges during the first six months or so of driving have far lower crash rates than other teens. The reasons for this could be just about anything, but it is reasonable to say that teens whose parents take the time to set down rules tend to remember them, and are more conscious of them when they drive. These rules go beyond things like wearing your seat belt, and not talking on the phone while driving. They include things like keeping a safe distance between you and the car ahead of you, not racing yellow lights, and not driving with friends in the car for those first few months. In addition, fair rules with fair consequences help kids take responsibility for their driving, this way they quit looking at as a right, and start considering it the privilege it is.
2. Learn your state’s driving laws.
In some states for the first six months new drivers can’t have passengers in their cars, or drive during certain hours. The reason for these laws is safety. These laws are backed by statistics, and help keep teens safe. Know the laws, and enforce them with your teen. They can help reduce crashes by 33%. And, on the plus side, it makes the state the mean entity that won’t let them drive their date to prom instead of you. Remember, 40% of teens get in a crash, over 300,000 a year get injured, and over 5,000 a year die in crashes. So, it might stink to be the mean parent for a while, but it could mean saving your child’s life.
3. Draw up a written agreement.
Most kids hate this, but the fact is, if you create a driving plan, and help them realize that they get more privileges as they become a better driver, they take driving well more seriously. You can create the agreement during the “learner’s permit” stage, where you supervise their driving and help them realize errors and familiarize themselves with the different driving techniques they should employ during different situations. As their driving improves, their privileges grow. This will help motivate them to pay better attention to the road as a whole, not just the cars in front of them, to slow down, and follow speed limits, and take precautions, and to avoid risky behaviors like cell phone use, or jamming out to music with friends while driving.