As a teen, getting your driver’s license is a rite of passage and signifies more freedom. As a parent, however, this can be the beginning of fear and worry. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 2,500 teens were involved in fatal car accidents in 2018. As a parent, there are several things you can do to keep your teen driver safe.
The leading cause of car accidents for teens is driver inexperience. Many parents believe it is due to distracted driving but it is the driver’s inexperience that can actually lead to fatal accidents. The good news is that inexperience is something that can be addressed and worked on. The CDC also reports other common causes of teen car crashes include:
- Driving with teen passengers
- Nighttime driving
- Not using seat belts
- Distracted driving
- Drowsy driving
- Reckless driving
- Impaired driving
These are similar to the leading causes of all car accidents, regardless of age. However, for teens, the risks are much higher. This does not only apply to teens who are driving, but also to teen passengers in another teen’s car.
Many insurance companies and car manufacturers have assistive tracking tools for new teen drivers that allow parents to keep track of how their teen is driving. However, nothing replaces education and implementing proper driving techniques. These include:
Driver’s education courses
With inexperience being the leading cause of car accidents for teenagers, a way that you can keep your teen safe is by enrolling them in a driver’s education course. Even if you have taught them to drive themselves, the more experience the better. Teens who are enrolled in these courses may also be able to receive discounts on their insurance.
Safe driver programs
Some insurance companies offer safe driver programs. This requires the teen and the parent to sign a driving contract which outlines expectations and responsibilities. It will also outline the consequences that will arise if these expectations are not met. Some insurance companies also offer discount programs using an app or other plug-in device that monitors the habits of your teen driver.
Graduated driver’s license programs
A graduated license program restricts teens from certain activities like having other passengers and driving at night until they have had their license and have been driving for a certain period of time. The time period is typically one year, but varies depending on the program. If you cannot find a graduated driver’s license program, you can create one that fits the needs of your family.
Choosing a safe car
Picking a car for your teen is not an easy task by any means. They may want something new and sporty, while you want to get them something safe. Many teens will often start off with an older or hand-me-down car, but that may not always the safest option. The best kind of car for your teen is a midsize or full-size car. It should be equipped with airbags, seatbelts, and kept maintained and repaired.
Large cars and trucks may seem safer, but they are also prone to roll-over accidents. On the other hand, sleek, high-performance vehicles may encourage teens to speed, which can lead to accidents. Find something you are both comfortable with, including necessary safety features.
Talking to teens about drugs and alcohol
You should have open communication regarding the dangers of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Make sure that your teen is comfortable calling you if they do find themselves in a situation where it is unsafe for them or others to drive. It is better for your teen to call you and arrive at home safely than to get behind the wheel and not arrive at home.
Discussing distracted driving
Teens are on their cell phones excessively and this can be extremely dangerous. This is one of the leading causes of distracted driving and can be just as deadly as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Other distractions can include changing the radio or paying attention to their passengers. It is recommended that teens wait at least six months before having a teen passenger in their vehicle.
Displaying role model behavior
Kids and teens do not always do what they are told and will often mimic the habits of their parents. After all, you are their biggest influence. When you are driving with your teen make sure you exhibit role model driving behaviors as they will inadvertently pick up on some of your driving habits. Always wear your seat belt and follow all of the rules of the road. If your teen does not see you follow the rules, they will be less likely to do so when they are on their own.
Remember, not every teen matures at the same rate as others for a range of reasons. Before you decide to put your teen behind the wheel, think carefully about their personality and habits. If your teen is easily distracted or nervous, you may need to take extra precautions when it comes to their driving instruction.
You should also spend some time teaching your teen how the car works and how to perform regular maintenance on the vehicle. Knowing how to check for issues can help prevent accidents in the future.
If your teen is involved in an accident, contact The Hayden Law Firm today. Big insurance companies often try to deny your claim, or have you pay out unfair amounts of money after a teen is involved in an accident. We have experience going up against these big insurance companies on behalf of our clients. Please call our offices at 314-480-3100 or fill out our contact form for a free, no-risk consultation. We are based in St. Louis, Missouri, but our firm proudly serves clients throughout Missouri and Illinois.
Attorney Amanda L. Hayden has dedicated her legal career to fearlessly advocating for clients and their families after their lives have been devastated by the careless and/or reckless conduct of others.
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