The resqme Safety Blog is introducing our Guest Post feature. Our first post concerns teen driving–a major issue as students go back to school this Fall.
Author: Natalie Jeurgens
Teaching your teen to drive can be a terrifying lesson in letting go of parental anxiety and fostering your child’s independence. It is reasonable to be worried, as automobile accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2010 alone, 2,700 teenagers died in motor vehicle accidents, while another 282,000 were treated for injuries in emergency rooms. Setting the rules of the road for your teen decreases the risk of a major auto accident.
Know Your State and Local Laws
Laws governing teenage drivers differ between states and counties, but many areas have strict rules about teen driving privileges. Learn the laws that affect your child, and use them to dictate driving privileges. These regulations may include the number of underage passengers allowed in the car, driving curfews or permissible driving conditions.
While insurance premiums are typically increased when adding a teen driver, companies have incentives like the “Good Student Discount” and the “Steer Clear Safe Driving Program” from StateFarm.com auto insurance that can lower the added costs to your policy. These programs provide further incentives for your teen to drive responsibly.
Require Seat Belt Use
Although your teen might complain that a seat belt is uncomfortable or uncool to wear, insist upon its use whenever in the vehicle. Do your part by consistently wearing a seat belt every time you’re in a car. Modeling this responsible behavior for your child is an important part of convincing him or her to stay safe.
Drinking and Driving
Despite being old enough to drive a car, your teen’s brain and reasoning powers are not fully developed. Social pressures, curiosity and other factors cause many teens to experiment with drugs and alcohol. Make it clear to your child that never, under any circumstances, is it appropriate to operate a vehicle while under the influence. Make this a “one strike and you’re out” rule. No exceptions. No get out of jail free card.
Driving is a Privilege, Not a Right
Many teens look forward to completing a drivers education course and getting their license. However, driving is a privilege granted to kids who follow important rules and behave appropriately. Avoid feeling pressured into granting that privilege too soon. If your child doesn’t show the personal maturity required to safely drive, consider making the driver’s license contingent on a specific set of behaviors.
Create a driving privileges agreement that gradually eases your teen into driving in certain conditions. For example, the first few months after getting a driver’s license may consist of driving only in the daytime in clear conditions. With more experience, your teen can earn the right to drive later at night, in various weather conditions, with certain passengers in the car or at longer distances from home. Setting clear expectations and penalties provides structure that facilitates safe driving.
Author’s Bio: Nat is a mom and an engineer. She works as a writer part-time because she is passionate about educating her readers.