There are many risks to family safety, but few things can make your heart race as much as handing the keys over to your un-supervised teen driver. Even with hours of practice driving and completion of a defensive driving class, it’s hard to watch your young driver head out onto busy roads without your guidance. It may be a little bit easier when you know that you’ve done everything you can to encourage safe driving habits, however.
The following statistics may leave you feeling even more worried than you initially feel:
- Automobile crashes are the leading cause of teen deaths
- Parents set bad examples for their teen drivers
- Thousands of teens die each year in crashes
- Distractions are the cause of many auto deaths
Fortunately, there are several ways you can respond to these concerns, so you and your teen feel more comfortable waving goodbye at the car door.
- Set a Good Example
That National Highway Traffic Safety Administration referred to a study by Liberty Mutual that found parents set bad driving examples for their teens and try to justify the behaviors. Is it any wonder then, that teens often ignore warnings not to use phones while driving or travel at high speeds? The best way to guarantee safe teen driving is to drive safely yourself.
- Use the Graduated Driver Licensing System
Many states have already adopted this system for teen drivers, and it is effective. The GDL system is broken into three stages. The system begins with a learner’s permit; the young driver must be supervised for a set number of driving hours during the day and night. There is a set duration, such as six months, before the first stage is completed. This permit can only be received after several requirements have been met.
During the second stage, the driver has a provisional license; nighttime driving and passengers are restricted. This intermediate stage lasts until the driver reaches a minimum age. There’s a similar list of requirements that intermediate drivers must satisfy to keep this license active.
Finally, the new driver earns a license with full driving privileges. Even if the system isn’t required in your state, you can follow it with your beginning drivers. The GDL system assures that new drivers have a lot of supervised driving, reduces potential distractions during critical years, and guarantees that young people have reached higher levels of maturity before driving alone.
- Reduce Driving Distractions
Drivers of any age are vulnerable to accidents caused by distracted driving. Some of the most common distractions include making adjustments while driving, responding to passengers or children, personal grooming and eating, and the use of phones. Teens and adults can become safer drivers when you upgrade your family car with teen driver technology. In fact, some adult children have invested in this type of technology for their parents’ cars.
Some examples of this include special settings modified by parents. For example, parents can set maximum speed limits, radio volume limits, and driving perimeter limits. Some of this technology is built into the car’s onboard systems and some of it is available through smartphone apps. For example, one app tells you where your driver is, when he or she has reached their destination, how fast they are driving, and how many quick stops your driver has made.
Stay Involved for the Long Haul
Of course, you want your young driver to wear their seat belts, drive within posted speed limits, and avoid distracted driving. You may maintain a zero-alcohol driving rule and outlaw the use of cellphones in the driver’s seat. If you really want your teen driver to abide by these safety rules, however, you must be a good example, increase driving privileges as your driver graduates from one level of safe driving to another, and take advantages of safe-driving technology. These efforts can help you feel much better about letting your teen pull out of the driveway.