Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the U.S., killing more teens than suicide and homicide combined. Understanding how to prevent these crashes is critical, particularly right now. The days between Memorial Day and Labor Day are known as the 100 deadliest days for teen drivers.
I don't remember exactly how old I was, maybe 17. I had not been driving for longer than a year. It was my junior year of high school. Driving home from school, the weather was beautiful and sunny. I had four people in my '89 Honda Accord and thought I was so cool. That faithful day, I learned two lessons about teen driving.
- Don't follow too closely: I ran smack into the car in front of me that day. I was quickly told by the kind police officer that—pretty much anytime a person runs into another car—it's the person driving the car with the crashed front bumper's fault.
- Don't have a car-load of people in your car. You can't be responsible for all of those people if you have an accident.
So, my point in telling you this is to point out that, as parents, there is more to teaching your child about driving than simply passing a driving test. Dad, you must be intentional about teaching your teen to be responsible with his/her vehicle.
The National Safety Council explains driver safety in two ways:
1. Know the Teen Driving Risks
- Driving is dangerous: The year your teen get his driver's license is the most exciting—and dangerous—year of his life.
- Lack of practice: Inexperience is the leading cause of teen crashes.
- Distractions: From cell phones to applying makeup, it's vital your teen stay focused on driving.
- Scanning the road: There's only about three seconds—one to recognize the hazard—two to react. But you can't react to something you don't see. Discuss the importance of looking out for potential hazards constantly.
- Unsafe speed: Teens often break the speed limit just for fun, but it's vital he/she understands the importance of knowing the speed limit wherever he/she drives.
- Passengers: How many teens can safely ride with new drivers? None!
- Seatbelt use: Seatbelts save lives. That is all.
- Night driving: 16 and 17 year olds are three time more likely to be involved in a fatal car crash at night.
- Impaired driving: From drinking, drugs and drowsiness—all 50 states have zero tolerance laws for underage drinking and driving for a reason
2. Know What You Can DoYou can help reduce your teen's driving risk. Simply staying involved with your teen goes a long way toward keeping your teen safe. Here are five things to keep in mind:
- Practice with your teen: sit beside them often as they drive—both before and after your teen gets her license.
- Set a good example: drive the way you want your teen to drive. Remember, they don't stop learning once they get their license.
- Sign a parent-teen agreement: a written agreement can help define expectations—for you and your teen.
- Let your teen earn privileges: one of the best ways your teen can show he is ready for new privileges is to show they can handle the ones you have already given.
- Let other parents know how you feel: once you know all the stats and ways to be more careful, get the word out by telling your friends. You will help your community by helping let others know what to watch out for regarding teens and driving.
The National Safety Council (NSC) has also recently launched a website for parents of teen drivers at DriveitHOME.org. Through videos, weekly driving tips and more, NSC wants to help parents navigate their teens driving experience.
Can't see video? Click here.
Please help spread the word about how to keep our teen drivers safe on our roads. Share this infographic with everyone you know who has teen drivers.
Connect with other dads of teen drivers:
- LIKE DriveItHome on Facebook
- Follow DriveItHome on Twitter
- Watch DriveItHome on YouTube
- Sign the Parent-Teen Agreement today.
Have you ever been involved in a car accident? How old were you?Connect with The Father Factor by RSS, Facebook and on Twitter @TheFatherFactor.