If your teen has recently obtained their license and is borrowing your car or has purchased their own, you need to have some important conversations and lay down some ground rules when it comes to driving. Here are some pointers to get you started.

Distracted Driving

First and foremost, be sure your teen understands that driving is a privilege. While it may not seem like a big deal to your teen, driving can be dangerous because of negligent drivers. Did you know that the automotive collision repair market is projected to cross $280 billion by 2024? It’s no surprise that this market is expected to continually increase. With the number of distractionary devices available to teens, you must make sure they understand the dangers that can come along with being distracted while driving.

Distractionary items include cell phones, music, food, and drinks. Discuss these items with your teen. It’s best that cell phones stay in bags or purses while driving to avoid letting a text or call notification become a distraction. Loud music, particularly when there are several people in a vehicle, can cause the driver to feel overwhelmed and perhaps make a mistake while driving. Food and drinks can become distractions if they get in the way of operating the vehicle. If your teen needs to eat or drink while driving, avoid eating snacks that can be choked on or that need to be held. Utilize metal straws in drinks to avoid having to unscrew a cap or open a water bottle while behind the wheel.

Setting Limitations

Other people in a vehicle can be considered a distraction as well. If your teen is a newer driver on the road, it’s best to limit the number of people allowed in the vehicle at once. Some states have laws regarding the number of people allowed in a vehicle based on the age of the driver. This is a good rule to enforce regardless. Additionally, limiting the hours your teen can drive may be a good idea as well. Limiting driving to the daytime and enforcing a curfew are good ways to make sure your teen won’t make an ill-considered choice. Your teen can use your limitations as a way to duck out of feeling pressure from friends to drive at night or make another choice that can lead to dire consequences.

Simple Rules to Follow for Your Teen’s Safety

In addition to eliminating distractions and setting driving limitations, discuss other ways your teen can remain safe in their vehicle. Buckling their seatbelt, obeying speed limits, slowing down at yellow lights, using turn signals, and simply paying attention to other vehicles and the rules of the road are ways your teen can drive safely. Additionally, have a conversation with your teen about how leaving early for an event or for work will eliminate the need to speed to get to a destination in time, as speeding is unsafe in itself.

Car Accidents

The Missouri Department of Transportation concluded that there were 377 fatalities and 1,171 serious injuries state-wide between 2015 and 2017, all of which were caused by an accident involving a commercial motor vehicle. Car accidents are beyond scary, and you certainly want your teen to avoid being in or causing one while they’re on the road. While you can’t control other drivers, you can certainly discuss ways your teen can be the safest driver possible.

Aside from following basic rules to ensure safety on your teen’s end, simply being aware of other drivers on the road is another way to avoid a car accident. Even at a green light, looking both ways to be sure another car isn’t running a red light can save lives. Have a conversation about how your teen can develop safer driving habits so they can avoid being involved in a car accident as much as possible.

In the Event of an Emergency

There were 1,520 tornadoes in the U.S. in 2019 alone. If you live in an area where hurricanes, tornadoes, hail storms, flooding, or other major natural disasters are reoccurring, be sure to have a conversation about the safety protocols your teen would need to take in the event of an emergency.

If your teen were in a car accident or emergency, would they know what to do? Discuss the steps they would need to take. Be sure they understand to not take the blame in an accident, be sure they call you right away, and be sure they have emergency numbers programmed into their cell phone in case they need medical help.

Driving is definitely a privilege that many people take for granted. Most people assume they’ll never be involved in a car accident. Some people even think it’s okay to drink and drive or send a text while behind the wheel. As your teen is getting on the road, be sure to have these important conversations to ensure they’re taking all safety precautions seriously while driving.