Teenage drivers pose the highest risk for accidents among all age groups. Not only do the somewhat new, inexperienced teen drivers have to deal with making wise decisions on their own, they also must manage bad decisions that are – usually spontaneously – made by other drivers. This creates a unique set of circumstances that can worry and frighten parents. Sitting them down for a conversation about driver safety will help them feel better prepared, and give you increased peace of mind.
Teenagers that have anytime access to a car are more likely to be reckless and carefree when they use the vehicle. This leads to an increased possibility of crashing. Instead, consider creating a car-use schedule for the family, and always require them to ask permission to use the car. This holds the teen more accountable for their actions.
Review Your Car Insurance Policy
The inclusion of a teen driver on a policy is going to require necessary changes. Premiums are likely to rise, and you may need increased coverage. For those who are facing a restricted or suspended license due to a number of different infractions, filing an SR-22 may also be necessary. This Certificate of Financial Responsibility is one step in the process toward the high-risk driver legally driving the vehicle. While your teen may not require SR-22 insurance, it is an important fact to discuss with them as drinking and driving can have many long and lasting impacts.
Review the Rules of the Road
As a parent, don’t hesitate to review the rules of the road more than once. Reiterate the reasons why there are speed limits in place in different locations. Go over how to react when wintry weather hits and the importance of not following other cars too closely. How drinking and driving are never acceptable, and getting enough rest before getting behind the wheel. Repeating yourself might get an eye roll or a mumbling under their breath, but it’s worthwhile when the message is carried with them.
Keep an Eye on Weather Conditions
Winter weather is unforgivably changeable. For those living in a snow belt, it can be sunny in one location and one mile down the road there are snow squalls that resemble blizzard conditions. Talk to your teen about installing a weather app on their phone and enabling notifications for weather warnings. Get them into the habit of checking the forecast before hitting the road.
Practice, Practice, Practice
The more your teen can practice driving, the more confident they will become in their driving skills. If you can accompany them during the first 500 miles after obtaining their license, you will be able to help them avoid bad habits and instill good ones. If they are uncomfortable driving on the highway, try to accompany them when they’re headed to it so you can answer any questions that arise right on the spot.
Speeding Causes the Most Accidents
Not only does speeding cause the most accidents, it also causes the most fatalities. Teen drivers are more likely to speed over any other age groups because 1) driving is a new-found excitement and 2) teenagers often feel invincible. Remind your teen driver that speeding isn’t just going over the speed limit (which could also nab them a hefty fine and points on their license) it’s also driving faster than the weather conditions deem acceptable. If it’s icy or wet out, if there are a lot of pedestrians, dark roads or blind curves, they’ll need to manage an even driving tempo that allows them to process information properly.
Keep Distractions Limited
Driving while checking a cell phone has proven to be just as dangerous as driving while intoxicated. The act of looking down, swiping, and reading takes just enough time for the driver to be distracted and lose sight of what’s going on around them. Teach your teen to keep the phone away from them while driving, and remember that they learn from watching their parents, so be a good role model. Other distractions include friends in the car, a loud radio and eating and drinking.
Stay Away from the Most Popular Highways
There are always particular roadways in a city or town that are the most heavily traveled. During the holidays, help your teen find other routes to take, especially on those days when traffic is the densest. This will help them shave minutes (or hours) off their trip, and it will also ease their anxiety of navigating traffic jams. They’ll have the rest of their lives to contend with those!
You don’t have to be high stress if you have a new driver on the road. Work with them to make rules, let them know your expectations, and remind them often of safety techniques so both of you feel more at ease.