Although the pandemic has put lots of events on hold, time doesn’t stand still for any of us. Despite all of the changes that have happened during the last six months, there are many milestones that can still be celebrated — including becoming a licensed driver.
If you have a teenager who recently obtained their license or is working towards that goal, you’ll want to do everything to ensure they’re protected. The truth is that 1.25 million people die in road crashes every year and that young, inexperienced drivers are the most likely to be involved in an accident. To keep your teen safe on the road and to encourage the best lifelong driving habits, here are a few tips you should teach your teens — and follow yourself — when it comes time for them to get behind the wheel.
Upgrade Their Vehicle
Although electric vehicles will make up 54% of new car sales worldwide by 2040, you probably aren’t looking to spend top-dollar on the car your teen will drive. However, you might want to think about getting them a newer and safer vehicle than what you currently have. One recent study found that teens and seniors — the two groups who are most at risk out on the road — are more likely to drive cars that lack the latest safety features. Around two-thirds of teens who were killed in road accidents between 2013 and 2017 were driving vehicles that were anywhere from six to 15 years old. Many were also driving smaller vehicles, which tend to come with higher driver fatality rates. You don’t necessarily need to spend a fortune on a new vehicle for your teen, but it is a good idea to think about upgrading to a newer vehicle (even one that’s used) that has desirable safety features that can keep your teen safe.
Keep Devices Locked Away
Distracted driving is one of the top three common causes of car accidents nationwide — and because teens are so digitally connected, you should be concerned about their use of electronic devices while out on the road. Even the simple act of looking at a text message or trying to use a navigation app while driving can cause a motorist to take their eyes off the road long enough to be involved in a crash. Talk to your teen about making a pact to keep devices locked away for the remainder of the trip; even checking a message at a stoplight isn’t necessarily safe. Having Bluetooth capabilities within the car can allow your teen to access navigation features or answer an urgent phone call from you in a way that’s hands-free. But regardless, make sure they know there’s nothing so important that it can’t wait until they’re safely parked. Make sure you model safe driving behaviors when you’re in the driver’s seat so that your teens will have a positive frame of reference.
Drive While Well-Rested
You’ve probably planned to talk to your teen about the dangers of drunk driving. But what about the dangers of drowsy driving? Some studies have found that driving while drowsy can be just as dangerous as driving while intoxicated. Your teen may not always know when they’re simply too tired to drive or they may downplay its seriousness. Let them know that you’re always willing to come get them and bring them home if they’re too sleepy to get behind the wheel. If they find that they can’t keep their eyes open once they start to drive, teach them to navigate to a safe spot and have them call you. Of course, prioritizing a good night’s sleep before getting behind the wheel is important. If they plan to practice their driving or will be driving in the car for longer than an hour the next day, set some ground rules to ensure they’ll get their 40 winks beforehand.
As a parent, you’ll do just about anything to keep your child safe. While you can’t keep them young forever, you can do your part to ensure their driving habits are sound. With these tips in mind, you’ll teach them what they need to know to stay safe on the road.