Now that school is back in session for the fall, it’s time to talk about teen driver safety. Many new drivers will be getting their licenses or attending driver school this year. Every year a good percentage of teen drivers will also get into accidents. Help prevent a potential accident with your young driver by spending plenty of time driving as a passenger with them. You’ll also need to talk about the potential dangers they face on the road. This is important even though they were already exposed to it in driver’s ed.
Basics Of Teen Driver Safety
There are plenty of laws to protect teen drivers, but they alone are not enough. Parents must set their own ground rules as their teens begin to drive, both for their safety and the safety of others on the road. Setting some guidelines now will help inexperienced drivers grow into experienced motorists. It can help to make it clear that many your extra rules are not permanent. They are only temporary until they truly get the hang of driving every day. Let’s take a look at some rules you may want to consider enforcing for now to help ensure teen driver safety. Of course there will also be some rules that will always apply as well.
Always Wear A Seatbelt
By now your children have heard “buckle your seatbelt” hundreds of times. This one should be a no-brainer, but some teens have the impression that it’s cool to ride around without a seatbelt. It can help to remind them that they’ll get a seatbelt ticket if an officer sees them not wearing it while driving. Another important tip: remind them to keep their seatbelt on if they are pulled over. Some drivers don’t realize a seatbelt should stay on unless you ask the officer to remove it to access papers or ID.
Often, the most dangerous factor for a teen driver is their passengers, not the teen drivers themselves. It’s natural for friends to want to ride along when a teen gets their license. However, even one passenger can up the risk of an accident significantly. The act of riding with a teen driver is new for most teen passengers as well. They are more inclined to contribute to an accident by distracting the driver. There can also be a peer pressure effect, where a teen driver is convinced to do things they normally wouldn’t without a passenger in the car.
Limiting or forbidding passengers in a teen driver’s car will be one of your toughest tasks as a parent with a new driver. However, remind your teen that this restriction is only temporary. It’s up to you how long this ban will last. Fact is you’ll feel a lot better about those first few weeks knowing your child is less distracted by any potential passengers.
No Cell Phones
It’s no secret that cell phone usage when driving is dangerous. This teen driver safety tip is repeated over and over in drivers ed class. Still it’s important to remind young drivers of this restriction once they get their license. Cell phone usage means both texting and calling. Texting while driving is especially dangerous, and it can be deadly for other drivers on the road, not just teen drivers. Be firm in your restrictions on cell phone usage with an “only use the phone when pulled over, not even when stopped at a light.” Remember, checking in on your teen with a text follows the same rules, and you should be patient in waiting for a response.
Restrict Night Time Driving
Many accidents that involve teen drivers occur after dark. Visibility is reduced and chances are the majority of their driving permit time was spend in the day, not at night. Most likely, their instructor never had a chance to ride with them after the sun had set. It’s up to you to spend time driving with them after dark, but even this doesn’t get them completely ready for night driving. You may want to set a curfew (earlier than your town or city’s teen curfew if there is one), and make future driving opportunities for your teen contingent on them arriving before your curfew has passed. If they can’t adhere to the curfew, then you may need to take away the privilege to drive for a while. Now “before the sun sets” is somewhat unrealistic, so aim for something more like 8 or 9pm to start.
Educate Them On Changing Road Conditions
Another risk that teen drivers face is going too fast in uncertain conditions. Often they don’t quite understand how their vehicle will perform or stop in wet or icy conditions. Part of getting the hang of driving in changing road conditions is just doing it. However, you should remind them that going slow is the best way to prevent an accident. Consider restricting their driving privileges if there is a big snow storm on the way. It’s also good to ask them to head home should a heavy rain storm or snow storm begin while they’re driving. This will give them a chance to experience changing conditions, but without pushing it too much on their way home.
You may think some of these guidelines are extreme, and that’s perfectly natural. For some parents, it may be enough to discuss these risks instead of setting strict rules. After all, if you treat a teen driver like an adult, they are more likely to behave like an adult once they have their license. As long as they know teen driver safety is serious business, you’ve done them a service as a parent.
If you’ve got a teen who is getting their license soon, talk to Square State Insurance about how they can get the best protection for teen drivers and potentially save you money on your auto coverage as well.