This week we’re celebrating National Teen Driver Safety Week at AA Muffler and Brakes. We understand how scary it can be when your teen starts driving solo, after all, “[m]otor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens.” Thankfully, teen vehicle crashes are completely preventable and you have a big part to play in that. We’ve compiled seven tips on topics from safety to fiscal responsibility to help you navigate this milestone in your teen’s life.
Invest in a Safe-Driving Course — While your teen will have already taken and passed their Driver’s Ed classes by the time they’re driving solo, practice makes perfect. Inexperience is often the cause of many teen car accidents. Enrolling your child in an approved Safe-Driving course can help them gain experience and skills post-Driver’s Ed. Safe-Driving courses are available online or in-person and last 6-12 hours. Don’t forget to ask your insurer about a car insurance discount for taking an approved Safe-Driving course!
Select the Safest Car — When you’re car-shopping for your teen, it is important to choose the safest car you can afford. Safety and reliability are vital components of any vehicle, new or used. Always check for advanced safety measures like front and side airbags, antilock brakes, and stability control. In the event of a crash, these features can be lifesaving. In addition to providing your child with more protection while they’re on the road, purchasing a safe car can help lower your insurance premium.
Put Your Own Graduated Licensing Program into Practice — Even if your teen passed a top notch Driver’s Ed program, you should still consider implementing your own set of rules until you feel your teen has gained sufficient driving experience and skills.
Set a curfew. According to the IIHS, most fatal crashes involving young drivers occur between 9 p.m. and midnight. So it might be a good idea to restrict your teen’s driving after 9 p.m.
Limit the number of people your teen can have in their car while driving. We know it can be fun to play chauffeur for friends, but the IIHS reports that having other teen passengers in the car with a new driver increases the risk of an accident.
Supervise your teen’s practice driving. Even though your child is now a licensed driver, they still lack the experience needed to properly handle difficult or new driving experiences. Plan out practice sessions to drive with your teen and help them through various driving situations. This will give them time to work up to different challenges such as driving in rush hour traffic, at night, or in bad weather conditions.
Have an Honest Discussion — Make sure your teen driver knows that driving is a privilege. Make your expectations clear about what good driving behavior is before you give the keys to your teen. Having a conversation with your teen about what you expect from them as a driver will ensure that you’re both on the same page.
Always Set a Good Example — Your children learn by example, and if they see you not following your own rules, why should they? Practice what you preach by driving safely, buckling up, and not using your phone while behind the wheel.
Talk About the Costs that Come with Driving — There are many expenses that come with car ownership and having your teen contribute to some of those costs will encourage them to take driving more seriously. It will also help them to develop the life skills they’ll need for when they grow up and have to start paying their own bills.
Establish a Zero-Tolerance Drinking Policy — Though the subject may be a bit touchy, this is one conversation you can’t afford to avoid. Although teenagers are less likely than adults to drive after consuming alcohol, their risk of crashing is significantly higher when they do. “About 1 in 5 fatally injured teen drivers have blood alcohol concentrations of 0.08 percent or more.” So be honest and upfront with your teenager about your expectations concerning drinking and driving, and stick to those expectations. By maintaining a firm zero-tolerance policy and setting a positive example yourself, you’ll help direct your teen down a safer path.
There you have it. Seven tips on how to help your teenager be a better, safer driver. We hope these tips will help you guide your teen on their path down this new milestone.