Keep Your Teenager Safe on The Road
If you’re the proud parent of a teen just about to hit the road with a brand-new permit or license, you’re probably concerned about their safety behind the wheel, especially in an emergency.
Beyond the obvious dangers of other drivers and inclement weather, you’ve got your own teen’s behavior to worry about: will they text and drive? Will they be aware of their surroundings? Will they obey the laws of the road?
While there’s no guarantee your teen will follow safe driving practices 100% of the time, and we all make mistakes once in a while, the tips below will help ensure your teen gets off to a safe start on the roads.
DO Know Your State’s Laws Regarding Cell Phone Usage
Spikes in texting-related accidents in recent years have led 38 states to ban “all cell phone use by novice or teen drivers”, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, (NCSL).
This means the state government has your back when you tell your teen not to text and drive. If you live in one of these phone-banning states and your teen is caught doing so, no amount of prior safe driving experience will let them off the hook with the law.
DO Warn Them About the Dangers of Driving Distracted
While you’ve no doubt warned your teen about drinking and driving, or drinking at all in their teenage years, you may not know that driving distracted is just as dangerous as driving drunk, according to distraction.gov
Distracted driving is driving while doing any other activity besides, well, driving. Your teen needs to avoid eating, smoking, all phone use, and any other behavior that takes their eyes and attention off the roads in order to drive safely.
DO Help Them Use Hands-Free Technology, for Emergencies Only
If your state doesn’t prohibit teen or newly-licensed driver cell phone use, consider helping your teen set up the voice-to-text feature on their phone, or, if they have it, on their car’s Bluetooth system, just in case of an emergency on the road. Many cars built after 2012 now include hands-free control of calls, texts, navigation, and even calendar features right from the car’s stereo system.
Most teens will be familiar with digital helpers like Siri helping them in day-to-day life anyway; just make sure that if they simply MUST use their phone on the road, that Siri does the typing instead of them.
Either way, make it clear that this is not the way to get around texting and driving! Stiff penalties exist for teens who illegally use their phones on the road for states with strict cell phone laws regarding teen or newly-licensed drivers.
DO Set a Driving Curfew
Most states already set a curfew for teen drivers who are driving with a permit or are newly licensed. Sites like the Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA) have helpful tables of permitted driving times for new drivers, as well as the permitted number of passengers for permitted or newly-licensed drivers
Though your teen may not like the thought of a curfew on their driving times, at least the state-mandated rules might make your job a little easier. At least now they know Mom and Dad aren’t just being strict, it’s actually the law.
DON’T Let Them Drive Tired
Long days of schoolwork, tests, sports practice and extracurriculars can leave your teen exhausted behind the wheel. While it might be tempting for them to just power through and get home to rest, driving exhausted is beyond unsafe and could cause an accident.
Instead, encourage your teen to do the safe thing and take a short nap in a safe parking lot, or gas station rest stop. A 20-minute delay for a quick nap is worth avoiding the heartache of an accident. Of course they should be reminded to lock their doors while napping.
Having your teen become of driving age is an exciting moment in life, but its also a stressful one. With the news wrought with vehicular accident reports, it’s a natural tendency to be worried about the safety of your child on the road.
We hope that you found the tips in this guide useful for helping your kids and their passengers arrive safe and sound to their destination for years to come.
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