Talk To Your Teen Driver – Car Pro Commentary

teen driver with keysFor most parents and grandparents, a teenage driver can be a real source of anxiety. I hear from listeners all the time who are contemplating their teenage son’s or daughter’s first car. They always mention safety, and they want to make sure their teen’s first car is as safe as possible. Unfortunately, too many parents worry more about the particular car than making sure their child knows what to do and not do when they get behind the wheel.
After years of decline, a new report from the Governors Highway Safety Association found a 19 percent increase in the number of U.S. deaths for drivers 16 and 17 years old in the first half of 2012. While the core reasons are not yet known, experts agree that driver distraction is more than likely a huge issue.
This is a good time to address driver distraction and overall safety with your teen driver. They really have no concept of how fast a wreck can happen. They will mess with the radio, text while driving, read emails, dial their phones, answer their phones, and a host of other things that take their eyes off the road. As we know, it only takes a split second for something really tragic to happen.
I recommend that you establish as many ground rules as you can and make a contract of sorts with your teens. Get them to make an agreement with you on their behavior while behind the wheel. You can find a lot of these online, ready to print. I would review this document on a regular basis. For instance, limit the number of kids in the car at one time. The fact is, two or more occupants in a teen’s car triples the risk of a fatal crash. We also know that in 40% of teen fatal crashes, speeding was a factor. There should be a heavy penalty, in my opinion, if your teen gets a speeding ticket, in hopes of discouraging this behavior.
This may surprise you too, but there is a huge risk if your child is an occupant in another teens’ car. Two-thirds of fatalities involving occupants in teen’s cars are due to them not wearing their seatbelts. Just because they buckle up when they are with you, doesn’t mean they do that when they are not with you.
As a parent, you should set a good example. A very recent study that I talked about on the air said 90% of teenagers said they had seen their parents talk on the phone while driving, and 59% said they observed a parent texting and driving. The study showed this made teens much more likely to also use their phone while driving.
Lastly, your little angel could drink and drive, or be a passenger in a car after the driver has been drinking. An inexperienced driver who has been drinking is a fatal accident waiting to happen. Even if you don’t think your child or grandchild would ever do this, have the conversation anyway, you never know what can save their life or the lives of others.
I write this article not to scare you, but to hopefully spare you from the heartache of your child being in a horrible accident. Have a plan, talk to your teens about these things. Remember back to the things you did as a young driver. Take this opportunity to have open and honest dialogue with your teens to keep them from becoming a statistic.


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