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4 Ways to Keep Teens Safe on the Road

Update Date: Oct 07, 2019 03:42 PM EDT
4 Ways to Keep Teens Safe on the Road
(Photo : Elijah O'Donnell)

Most teenagers can't wait to get behind the wheel of a vehicle. For them, learning to drive and getting their driver's license is the key to freedom and independence. Having a teen in the house who is driving can be a positive thing for parents as well. It provides a way to foster independence, plus it means you will no longer have to drive your teen to all of their activities. When the teen in your home is driving, there is someone else who can run to the grocery store or run other errands for you.

On the other hand, having a teenager behind the wheel will probably induce some anxiety. Even though they are more independent, they are at risk of getting into an accident. Unfortunately, when it comes to teens and driving, the statistics aren't good. According to one study, motor vehicle crashes are the cause of death for 33% of teenagers between 13 and 19 years old. The death rate for teenagers who are 16 and 17 increases with each additional passenger in the vehicle. Within their first year of driving, 1 in 5 16-year-olds get into a car accident.

Teenagers are more likely to get into a car accident because they have underdeveloped brains that impede their decision-making skills. Teenagers are also dealing with hormones, peer pressure, and not fully comprehending the consequences of their actions. For these reasons, many teens engage in risky behavior, such as texting while driving or driving when drunk. Teenagers might not realize that if they cause a car accident and someone is injured as a result, there will be legal repercussions for their actions. Oftentimes, a teen driving accident lawyer will need to be involved as there might be serious charges filed against the teenager.

For parents who aren't sure what to do, here are four ways to keep teens safe on the road.

1. Enroll Your Teen In a Defensive Driving Course

If you are like most parents, you probably taught your teenager how to drive. In fact, when it comes to learning how to drive, 56% of teenagers rely on their parents to teach them. Some schools still offer drivers education classes. Kids can also benefit from taking online driving classes. Besides just learning to drive though, kids need to learn how to drive defensively. For this reason, you should enroll your teen in a defensive driving course.

Most defensive driving courses will teach teens things like how to handle a vehicle when it starts to spin and how much even a slight distraction can impair their driving. Besides teaching teens to become better drivers, a defensive driving course can greatly increase your teen's confidence behind the wheel.

2. Reinforce Strict Rules

If you aren't a very strict parent, it's time to become one. Making rules and reinforcing them could make all the difference when keeping your teen driver safe. Since the chances of getting into an accident increases with the number of passengers, only allow your teen to drive with one other friend in the vehicle. Setting a strict curfew could also keep them safe. More than 40% of deaths for teen drivers occur between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. If your child has to be out past 9, you or another adult should pick them up.

In order to keep your teen safe, you should also enforce a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to alcohol and texting. About one-quarter of fatal teen accidents involve underage drinking and driving. The number of deaths associated with texting and driving is also high. In fact, texting while driving is much more likely to cause an accident than driving drunk. One out of four car accidents is caused by texting and driving.

While 94% of teens understand the dangers of texting and driving, 35% of them do it anyway. It's not just texting while driving that causes car accidents, it's using the cellphone for anything. Using a cellphone while driving is considered distracted driving. When it comes to fatal car accidents, 21% of teen drivers were distracted by their cellphone. If your teen driver drinks or uses their cellphone while driving, you should take the keys away for an extended period of time. Reinforcing strict rules is one of the best ways to keep your teen driver safe.

3. Get a Vehicle with Advanced Safety Features

You might be tempted to let your teen drive the oldest car in the garage. This way, if they get into an accident, the vehicle can more easily get replaced. However, this isn't always wise. Many older vehicles do not have some of the advanced safety features that newer ones have.

In order to keep your teen safe on the road, the vehicle they are driving should have the following safety features:

  • Side airbags - offer added protection for a driver's head and helps reduce deaths when hit on the driver's side
  • Electronic Stability Control (ESC) - sensors placed on the wheels and steering wheel help keep the car under control
  • Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS) - prevents brakes from locking up so that driver can maintain control of the car
  • Crash Avoidance Technology - these technologies include blind spot detection, adaptive headlights, and lane departure warnings

All of these features will help to keep your teen driver safe. One of the oldest and best safety feature that should be used at all times is the seatbelt.

4. Monitor Your Teen's Driving

When you're teen is driving, you won't be able to be with them at all times. There are ways, however, that still allow you to monitor their driving. You can do this by installing a driving monitoring app on their cellphone.

These apps let you monitor things like location, speed limit, phone usage, and other kinds of driving behavior. Some apps will silence incoming calls and texts and also alert 911 if your teen is involved in a crash. Some of the best monitoring apps include Autobrain, RoadReady, and Mama Bear.

Hopefully implementing these four things will help you to have a little more peace every time your teen driver gets behind the wheel.

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