A Milestone Moment
Handing the car keys to your teenage driver for the first time can be a nerve-wracking experience! It seems like just yesterday you were chasing a wobbling bicycle down the street. Now you stand face to face with dry-mouth, keys in hand and gloomy statistics running through your head. According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), car crashes take more teen lives than cancer, homicide and suicide together. Many are killed as passengers of other teen drivers. And it doesn’t matter if your child is the class valedictorian, even the smartest teens are at a higher risk of a deadly crash than more experienced drivers.
Approximately 5,000 teenagers die in traffic accidents every year.
Now the good news. You can make a difference! While it may not always seem like it, research says that teens really do value the opinions of their parents over their peers. That’s your window of opportunity to explain the risks of driving and share your knowledge. Get the conversation started. Sit down with your teen and have a frank discussion about the facts, your concern for them, the rules you’re going to set and why — their safety. Really, this conversation and your actions could save your teen’s life.
Teen drivers represent 7% of licensed drivers and are involved in almost 20% of fatal crashes.
Where to Start
- Everyone wears a seatbelt. ALWAYS. Seatbelts reduce the risk of injury and death in an accident.
- No riding/driving with other teens at night. Teen crash rates increase dramatically after dark. Avoid it if you can.
- Set limits and stick to them. Your child faces a higher risk of a crash when riding or driving with other teens. It doubles with one other teen in the car and quintuples with two or more.
- When alcohol or drugs show up get out and call home.
A 2010 survey indicated that more than half of drivers surveyed had used a phone while driving.
Why do teens crash? The number one answer is lack of experience. They especially have trouble with :
- Distractions – anything that takes the driver’s attention away from the task of driving, adjusting the radio, texting, talking on the phone, eating food (#1 teen pastime) or interacting with others in the car. Even hands-free devices take a driver’s attention from job of driving.
- Space management – the amount of time and space needed to maneuver safely in traffic. This involves lane changes, tail gating, and proper turning radius
- Speed management – knowing what speed is safe for the driving conditions. Sun glare, fog, rain and snow are just a few conditions that affect proper speed.
Now is the Time
Take advantage of the time you have now as a parent to prepare your teen driver for the road ahead. Discuss these common issues with them and what they can do to avoid them. Model good diving habits yourself – no distractions, good space/speed management. When you’re supervising your teen’s driving stay off the phone. Practice good “no distraction” habits. Visit the AAA teen driving website for more help. They even have a teen driving agreement outlining expectations and a table of consequences for not conforming to the contract. Check it out at the link below.
The saddest statistic of all is that nearly 100% of accidents involving teens are avoidable. Freedom Insurance cares about the safety of you and your family. We hope this has been helpful. Please share your comments below. We are always happy to hear from you!