Did your teen recently get a learner’s permit or a driver’s license? If so, you may be worried about your teen’s safety whenever he or she gets behind the wheel. After all, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that auto accidents are the leading cause of death among teens. You can help your teen to drive safe and avoid accidents by talking with him or her about these five points:
1. Knowledge is power.
Make sure that your teen takes a driver’s education course. The course will instruct your teen about the rules of the road and about defensive driving techniques such as constantly scanning the road for risks or hazards. You should reinforce what your teen learns in the course when you ride along with your teen.
2. Hang up the phone.
Distracted driving is highly dangerous, especially when it involves the use of phones. You should make sure to discuss any laws in your state that prohibit texting and driving or which ban or greatly restrict any use of electronic devices by teens while they are driving. You should also talk with your teen about avoiding many other potential distractions such as eating, drinking, putting on makeup, playing with the radio or interacting with passengers.
3. Slow down.
In a AAA survey, driving instructors identified speeding as one of the top mistakes which teens make when they are learning how to drive. Statistics show that speeding actually plays a role in roughly one-third of all fatal teen crashes. For this reason, you should make sure that your teen understands the importance of following the posted speed limit and going only as fast as traffic, road and weather conditions allow.
4. Don’t drink and drive.
You should make sure that your teen understands the dangers of impaired driving. Your teen should know that consuming alcohol or using controlled substance great affects a person’s judgment and ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. Additionally, many states have a “zero tolerance” law that prohibits teens from driving if they have any amount of alcohol in their system. Your teen should understand the serious consequences that he or she faces if the teen is charged with a violation of that law.
5. Use caution in severe weather.
Teens need to realize that they must adjust their driving when they encounter harsh weather conditions such as rain, fog, ice and snow. You should talk to your teen about using lights, windshield wipers, hazard lights and the defroster in certain types of weather conditions. You should make sure that your teen knows that there is nothing wrong with slowing down when they are driving through conditions that cut down on visibility and makes the roads slick.
In addition to these five topics, you should tell your teen to always wear a seat belt and make sure that all of his or her passengers are buckled up. Wearing a seat belt cannot prevent an accident. However, it can save lives if a crash occurs.