Advice for Parents of Teen Drivers
January 26, 2017
Statistics show that teenagers are more likely than any other age group to be involved in an automobile accident. PURE has had claims involving several tragic incidents, many of which involved the use of a cell phone. Some accidents, however, simply reflected the teenagers' lack of driving experience. As a parent, you can help your teenager become a safe and skilled driver by setting a good example and discussing safe driving practices.
The following advice can help you play this important role in keeping your teenage driver safe:
Prevent distracted driving.
Consider a device or app that will help your teenager resist distractions such as text messages, music selection or other non-driving smartphone uses. The market for these solutions is growing rapidly, and many different options exist. Some even offer feedback regarding the driver's skill and safety practices, providing opportunity for improvement. We recommend researching these devices and apps before deciding which one may fit your family's needs best.
Restrict night driving.
The most severe teen crashes occur between 9 PM and midnight. In addition to the fact that night driving requires more skill behind the wheel, late-night outings tend to be recreational. Even teens who usually follow safe driving practices can be easily distracted or tempted to take risks. Setting restrictions around driving after 9 PM can help to increase safety.
Restrict teenage passengers.
About six in every ten teenage passenger deaths occur in crashes with teen drivers. Such passengers can easily distract a newly licensed driver, and their presence may also lead to greater risk-taking. These crashes happen during the day and at night, so the best policy is to restrict teen passengers at all times.
Limit driving in bad weather.
Bad weather makes driving more dangerous for people of all ages, but teen drivers, in particular, lack the experience to react safely in wet or slick conditions. Limit your teen’s unsupervised driving in severe weather until they gain more experience.
Take advantage of driver safety programs.
Driver safety programs and courses are offered by many different organizations across the country. Enrolling your teen in such a program is a great way to help them learn safer driving techniques in a controlled and strategic environment. A PURE Member Advocate® can help you find a program in your area; call (888) 813-PURE or email firstname.lastname@example.org to get started.
Don’t just rely on driver's education—take an active role in helping your teenager learn to drive. Plan a series of practice sessions that include a wide variety of situations, including night and bad-weather driving, and continue to teach and supervise as your teenager graduates from a learner’s permit to a restricted or full license. Also, remember that you’re a role model and can lead by example; take the opportunity to demonstrate how you'd like your teenager to drive while you're behind the wheel yourself.
Emphasize the importance of seat belts.
Just because your teenager wears their seat belt while you're in the car doesn't mean it will be worn when they are driving alone or with peers. Insist that every member of your family get into the habit of wearing a seat belt at all times, even in the back seat or during very short trips.
Prohibit drinking and driving.
Help your teenager understand that it’s illegal and highly dangerous to drive after drinking alcohol or using any other drug. While alcohol isn’t a factor in the majority of fatal crashes that involve 16-year-old drivers, it still represents a threat. Even small amounts of alcohol are impairing for teenagers.
Choose vehicles with safety, not image, in mind.
The best vehicle choice for your teenager is one that reduces their chances of crashing and offers protection from injury in the event of a crash. Ensure their car is equipped with the latest safety technology, including side airbags and electronic stability control. Although your teen may be drawn to smaller-sized or performance vehicles, these introduce dangerous risk factors: small cars don’t offer the ideal protection during collisions, and performance vehicles might tempt someone to speed.
Get it in writing.
Download and print PURE’s Parent/Teen Driver Agreement to outline their driving privileges and document specific penalties for rule-breaking. Discuss the contents of the agreement with your teen and have them sign it. This way, the rules and potential consequences will be documented and agreed upon ahead of time.
i AAA and Seventeen Magazine. ii “Teen Drivers: Get the Facts.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. iii National Highway Traffic Safety Administration