The statistics on car crashes involving teen drivers in the United States is alarming for any parent. In 2018, the CDC reported that vehicular accidents resulted in over 2,500 deaths and 285,000 injuries in people aged 13 to 19.
Those who are most at risk are teens aged 16 to 19 as they are three times more likely to get embroiled in a fatal car mishap as compared to drivers aged 20. Furthermore, male teens are at a higher risk of getting into a deadly car accident than female teens.
Fortunately, many of the car crashes involving teenage drivers are avoidable. Parents like you play a crucial role in minimizing these accidents. It is a matter of ensuring that your teen develops safe driving habits. How do you do this? We have listed some tips below on how you can make this happen.
Enroll Your Teen in an Excellent Drivers Ed Course
Most states require new teen drivers to complete a drivers education course before they can apply for a learner’s permit. This program is where they learn pertinent information about driving – car maintenance, traffic laws, road signs and defensive driving techniques.
Studies show that taking driver ed significantly reduces the risk of teens receiving a traffic citation and more importantly, getting involved in an accident.
But simply enrolling your child in this kind of program is not enough. You must choose a well-designed drivers ed course, one that adheres to the standards set by the state or the DMV. This is to ensure that your child learns everything that is needed to drive safely.
Require More Practice Behind the Wheel
It is also mandatory in most states for new teen drivers to take professional driving lessons. A professional driving instructor should handle the behind-the-wheel training.
Much like a drivers education course, the number of hours your child needs to put in depends on your state. But just because your child has completed the required hours for professional driving lessons, it does not mean that he should stop practicing.
Inexperience is one of the top reasons why car crashes are high amongst teen drivers. Spending extra hours practicing how to drive can go a long way in terms of improving his driving skills.
Most states require only six hours of behind-the-wheel training. However, studies show that it takes at least 50 hours for a person to become a proficient driver. Hence, if you truly want your child to master safe driving techniques, he needs to practice more.
Make Sure Driving Laws Are Followed
Most states implement a Graduated Licensing Program (GDL) wherein new teen drivers need to adhere to some rules for them to receive their full or unrestricted license.
For example, they cannot drive with a teen passenger without adult supervision. Another widely implemented rule is that they cannot drive at night.
Studies show that comprehensive GDL programs have reduced the number of fatal car collisions and overall car crashes in drivers aged 16.
Admittedly, many teens find these rules too restrictive and end up breaking them. Make sure that your child does not do the same thing. Explain the importance of the GDL program and see to it that he complies with the requirements.
What if your state does not have a GDL program? You can set your own rules that limit his driving privileges until you see that he is equipped to drive safely.
Inculcate Safe Driving Practices
Never tire of reminding your child about safe driving habits. It is not unusual for new teen drivers to forget the basic things they need to do to avoid accidents like always wearing their seat belt and not texting while driving.
The latter is very prevalent nowadays, especially amongst teen drivers. Texting while driving is considered the most dangerous type of distracted driving behavior. So, make sure that you set rules that can prevent him from developing this bad habit.
Be a Good Example
Parents are actually the first driving teachers of teenagers. Whenever they are in the car, they learn a thing or two about driving from the parent or adult behind the wheel.
So, be mindful about how you drive. Make sure that you always follow traffic laws and proper driving practices. Even the littlest things matter like following traffic lights and being polite to fellow motorists.
Remember, you are your child’s role model. Your driving habits are going to influence his. Hence, you have to be a safe driver for him to be one.