Sending your child out on the road can be a scary proposition. One in five teen drivers has an accident within the first year of having their license, and the statistics seem to get worse every year. While parents can’t follow their child around everywhere, there are things to do to help your teen driver to be safe. Here are a few ideas:
Set rules. Studies have shown that teens with parents who set and enforce driving rules are more likely to be safe when driving than teens who don’t have rules. Work with your teen to set family rules, such as how many people can be in the car, when they can drive, and when they have to be home. Also set consequences for what happens if the rules are broken—loss of driving privileges, an earlier curfew, etc. If needed, post the rules in a visible place to remind your teen every time they get behind the wheel.
Restrict cell phone use. One of the most dangerous things about teen drivers is their connection with their cell phone, which can lead to distracted driving. While you want your child to have a phone in case of emergency, you also don’t want it to be the cause of the emergency. Make sure your teen turns of their phone or puts it in airplane mode when driving. Some cell phone companies even let parents track their child’s phone to make sure they are following the rules.
Set an example. Teenagers might not want to admit it, but they pay a lot of attention to what their parents do. Model good driving behavior, including putting your cell phone away and minimizing distractions in the car. You don’t have to make a big show out of your driving, but quietly follow safety rules and your child might pay attention.
Get a safe car. Not all teen drivers have their own cars, but you should still make sure the car your child drives (whether it is their own or it belongs to the family) is safe. Mid-size cars tend to be the safest, as they are easy to maneuver but also big enough to protect the driver and passengers without the rollover danger of larger cars and SUVs. If you’re buying a new car, be sure to look at safety ratings and crash protection.
While parents can’t guarantee their child’s safety when they get their drivers license, they can be prepared and involved to give their teen the tools for safe driving.