Letting your teen get behind the wheel brings fear to the minds of all parents. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for American teenagers. We all know that getting through to our kids, especially teens, can at times be easier said than done. Therefore it would be wise to speak with your teen driver about traffic safety and personal safety, not just once but repeatedly.
Here are some of the common items on a parent’s list when speaking to their teen driver:
Pay attention. Distracted driving is a scary epidemic. Teens are more likely than other age groups to be involved in a fatal crash where distraction is reported. Yes, that could mean you. Put your phone away or pull over if you are expecting an important call. Do not, under any circumstances, text and drive and for Pete’s sake, do not apply makeup while you are driving. You will have plenty of time when you arrive at your destination to put on lipstick.
Limit the risk. While driving under the influence is a tremendous risk at any age, young drivers are substantially more likely to get into fatal accidents while under the influence of alcohol. Make sure your child understands that there should be absolutely no drinking if he or she will be driving, not just because it is illegal but because it is extremely dangerous.
Look twice. Watch those blind spots. Check your rear-view and side-view mirrors before changing lanes. Also remember that the drivers in the next lanes have blind spots too.
Accessorize. Always wear a seat belt. More than half of those killed in crashes in 2010 were not wearing a seat belt. It is not cool to drive without a seat belt. Not only is it the law, but wearing a seatbelt is perhaps the single most important thing you can do to protect your life while behind the wheel.
Be prepared. Have emergency supplies on hand, such as a flashlight, batteries, towels, a first-aid kid, flares or safety triangles, bottled water, snacks and a charged cell phone. Put them in an overnight bag and keep them in your trunk.
Be patient. No one is ever in such a hurry to be somewhere that they have to cut off other drivers, run red lights or drive at unnecessarily high speeds. Also, leave enough room from the car in front of you in case of a short stop. Patient driving is safe driving.
Know what to do. If you break down, pull as far off the road as possible. Raise the hood and put your flashers on. Exit your vehicle with extreme caution. Do not open your car doors for anyone you do not know. Never ignite flares if fluids are leaking from your vehicle. When in doubt, call 911.
Have you spoken with your teen driver lately? How did your conversation go? What else have you discussed with your teen driver about staying safe on the road?