Your Teenager is Driving, NOW What?!
If you have a teenager—even one who’s not quite of driving age—it’s only a matter of time until you hear the magic words: Can I borrow the car?
At Freedom, we’re all about, well, freedom! We think it’s great that your teen is ready to take the wheel and learn how to drive. But just like you, we want to ensure that your teenage driver is being careful and intelligent behind the wheel.
Take a look at the Seven Tips for Keeping Your Teen Safe Behind the Wheel, and be sure to share them with your newbie driver. Sure, she might roll her eyes. Sure, he’ll tell you “I get it,” but you’ll enjoy peace of mind knowing that you’ve armed your kid with the good knowledge they’ll need to be a great driver.
Seven Tips for Keeping Your Teen Safe Behind the Wheel
Don’t text while driving
For new drivers, the simple math is this: Texting + Driving = Death. Texting while driving is the leading cause of death among teenage drivers. In fact, for any driver, texting behind the wheel is six times more dangerous than driving under the influence of alcohol. Six. Times. More. Dangerous. To learn more about the impact of texting while driving, share this article with your teen driver!
Hang up and drive
Using cell phone can be fatal when driving. As a recent study from Virginia Tech found, it’s not the act of talking on the phone itself so much as the “subtasks” of dialing, looking for the phone, or manipulating a hands-free device that can lead to a crash. Rather than take the risk, leave the phone alone and focus on driving. You can always call from your destination!
Clown Cars are for Circuses
If your teen is driving, she’s going to have a lot of friends—perhaps even some she didn’t know she had—who will want a ride. But driving an overcrowded car is unsafe and illegal. Remind your teen driver that she should ONLY carry the number of people that can sit in a seat with a seatbelt. Additionally, if your teenager is giving a ride to his crew, remind him that safety has to come before everything else. All the passengers must be seated, with seatbelts on, and not horsing around. Remember: Clown cars are for circuses!
Drinking, Drugs, and Driving
Your teenager has absolutely zero reason to drink, and even less reason to do drugs. Fortunately, there has been a lot of strong messaging against drunk or drugged driving in the last several decades and, what once passed as “kids will be kids” behavior is now rightly looked at very harshly by law enforcement.
Still, parties and peer pressure do happen, and there’s a chance that your son or daughter could be impaired with keys in hand. Make sure you have a safety plan to keep your kid from driving impaired—and that you’re prepared to execute that plan at midnight on a Tuesday. Even prescription medications can cause problems behind the wheel, so make sure you thoroughly discuss, review, and understand what’s in your child’s system before you hand over the keys.
Need for Speed?
It’s tempting to go fast. The first time you hit the gas and feel the power of a gasoline engine, the temptation can be enormous to test the limits and see just how fast you can make Mom’s hooptie go.
With teenagers, the desire to test—and blow past—limits can be overwhelming, so it’s important that your teen understand just how dangerous it can be to drive faster than the posted speed or the road conditions allow. Talk to your teen about the risks associated with speeding. Aside from the potential for tickets, court costs, points, and fines, it’s important to know that speeding kills 28 people a DAY—over 10,000 people per year.
Distracted driving is dangerous driving. Anything—like loud music or conversation—that distracts the driver from the task at hand is potentially fatal. Your teenager should know that, just because she’s alone in the car, it’s NOT okay to crank Beyonce’s latest booty shaker to window-rattling levels. Aside from creating a distraction, loud music also masks sounds outside the vehicle like emergency equipment or mechanical failure. Keep the music—and the discussion—at a civil level.
Know Your Limits!
Like Han Solo said to Luke: Don’t get cocky. Sure, your kids might not get that reference, but you do, and that’s what matters. Make sure your teen driver knows that there are limits to her skills, and that she’s still starting out as a driver. Your son might have his license, but he does not have the years of experience required to fully comprehend the difference between driving on a clear dry day versus a cloudy rainy day.
Once your teenager gets her license, make sure to spend some time with her on rainy days, cloudy days, and snowy days and demonstrate the difference between normal driving conditions and hazardous conditions. If the community college in your area offers driving courses, consider taking a few along with your kid. It’s a great way for you to both improve your driving (and for once you’ll know where he is).
So, when your teen asks for the keys, swallow hard, pray sincerely, and remember that your friends at Freedom are here to help you answer any questions you have about keeping your kid safe behind the wheel. For more great content on vehicle safety and teenage drivers, click here.
Don’t drive angry!