It’s an exciting milestone when our kids first get their driver’s licenses. It seems like just the other day that we strapped them into their carseats, and now they’re behind the wheel. However, it’s also scary that our 16 and 17-year-old teen drivers are going to be on the roads by themselves.
In fact, according to the New York State Department of Health, motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of unintentional deaths for teens ages 16 to 17 in New York. Every day, about 10 people are killed or seen in hospitals due to car crashes caused by a teen driver. The CDC also reports that almost 2,400 teens aged 13–19 lost their lives in car crashes in 2019.
With stats like these, how could we even allow our kids on the roads? Well, there are certain safety measures we can take as parents to prepare our teens for safe driving. Read on for tools and resources to protect your child behind the wheel and others around them.
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Tips For Parents on Raising Safe Teen Drivers
Practice with your teen driver
According to the CDC, driver inexperience is a leading contributor to crashes and injuries for teen drivers. Therefore, it’s important that they have enough supervised practice through various types of conditions– rain, snow, traffic, hills, etc. The CDC recommends that you ride in the car with your teen for at least 30 to 50 hours to ensure they’re ready to take on the roads alone.
Limit their passengers
Keeping your child safe is important, but it’s also necessary to ensure the safety of others. With more passengers in the car, there’s more opportunity for distraction. Try to set a limit, such as 1 passenger per car ride, for their first few months driving.
Set a curfew
The CDC lists nighttime driving as a danger zone for teen drivers. It’s best to set a time that your teen has to be home so they’re not driving too late at night when they first get their license.
Have open conversations
Mistakes happen, but you want to make sure you catch them if they do. That’s why it’s important to have open conversations with your teen about their driving. Whether that’s their concerns or yours, create a space to talk about them so they feel comfortable coming to you.
Much like Apple’s “Find My” app, Life360 allows you to track your child’s location. But Life360 has a special feature that’s especially helpful for new drivers– speed reporting. Unsafe speed continues to be the leading cause of accidents in New York. The New York State Department of Health reported that for 21% of car crashes involving teens ages 16 to 17, unsafe speed was a factor, as compared to 10% for ages 25 to 49.
With Life360, you can see where your teen is driving and how fast they’re going. That way, if you do notice unsafe driving speeds, you can get ahead of the issue and address their speed before an accident happens.
Alongside unsafe speeds, driving distractions is another leading cause of teen car accidents in New York. Luckily, iPhones offer a feature that automatically silences notifications while you’re driving. To set this up on your child’s phone, tap “Settings”, “Focus”, the “+” button to add a new focus time, and then “Driving”. This will ensure that your child isn’t texting their friends behind the wheel.
If you already have GEICO car insurance, you may be able to save money and keep your teen safe at the same time. The GEICO Mobile app offers a DriveEasy program that monitors your phone use while driving. If you don’t use your phone, you’ll have a higher score which then lowers your insurance rate. If your teen does use their phone while driving, you’ll be able to monitor that and intervene before it happens again.
Seat Belt Reminders
According to the New York State Department of Health, teen drivers and their passengers are over four times more likely to experience brain injury or be ejected from the vehicle if they do not have their seat belt on properly. That’s why it’s important to choose a vehicle that has a seat belt reminder when the seat belt isn’t on. Some cars even offer automatic seatbelts!
Nationwide offers driving safety tips that are a great resource for both parents and teen drivers. The guide even includes situational examples, such as winter driving tips.
This website includes driver’s safety articles for parents and teens to learn how to stay safe. There’s a very helpful overview of defensive driving with links to defensive driving courses by state for you to enroll in.
The CDC has their own guide to how parents can keep teen drivers safe. The guide includes danger zones for teen drivers, tips for parents, and things to keep in mind before you get behind the wheel. It could easily be a printable for teens to keep in their vehicle and double check before they start driving.
This downloadable agreement provides the perfect template for an open conversation with your teen about their driving. Print out the agreement and align on the rules with your child so they know exactly what you expect. You can even put it on the fridge or slip it into their car for reference.
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