While placing your teen under a full coverage insurance policy can go a long way in protecting your family’s financial future, it does nothing to stop your young loved one from causing an accident that can put their life at risk, as well as the lives of others. Having a new teen driver in the family can cause stress and worry for parents, but by following a few guidelines and implementing simple rules, you can help ensure your teen’s safety behind the wheel.
Why Your Involvement is Important
The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and State Farm Insurance conducted a survey of more than 5,500 teen drivers in high school and found that teens whose parents were actively involved in their lives were half as likely to be involved in a crash. This means that keeping tabs on where your teen is headed and who he or she will be with can help keep them safe and even prevent a crash. Also, if you show more interest in your teen’s life, he or she will be more willing to confide in you about driving habits or other aspects of his or her life.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, motor vehicle crashes are the number one killer of teenage drivers. Talking to your teenager long before they get their license about safety habits and the rules you expect them to follow could play a large part in keeping them safe while they drive. Make them understand that you are not trying to control them, but rather ensure their safety and help them become better drivers. Allowing them to gradually take on new challenges as a young driver will motivate them to follow your rules, and keeping an open relationship with them will help you monitor their driving skills.
During the first six to twelve months, you should allow them limited access to the car, and have them request the keys from you if they want to go somewhere. This way, you can have a conversation about where they are headed, who they’ll be with, and how long they will be gone. Among the teens surveyed, the ones with easy access to car keys were more than twice as likely to have been in a car crash compared with teens who had shared access to keys. Also, easy access made teens more likely to speed and use cell phones while driving. As your teen demonstrates more skill and good decision making, you might allow them to take the keys more often without asking first, but only after a reasonable time period.
Inform Your Teen
Teens whose parents set clear expectations and paid attention to where their teens were going were half as likely to be involved in a crash and more than twice as likely to wear a seatbelt. Also, the survey showed that these teens were 71% less likely to drive while intoxicated and 30% less likely to use a cell phone behind the wheel. Teens who displayed safest behaviors had parents who set clear rules and offered a lot of support. If you want to keep your teen safe while driving, maintaining a balance of exerting authority and offering feedback or support is crucial to his or her well-being. Oftentimes, parents feel that at a certain age, they should back off from setting rules for their teen and let them have more freedom. However, driving should not be taken lightly, and new drivers need clear guidelines and expectations to follow in order to protect them.
New drivers should not have more than one passenger for six to twelve months. The main causes of teen crashes are inexperience, teen passengers in the vehicle, and nighttime driving, according to the National Safety Council. By following Graduated Licensing Laws, or laws that allow teens to slowly progress with more difficult situations based on performance and experience, you can ensure you are going to the greatest lengths to keep your teen out of harm’s way.
Be Loving, but Firm
Even though you may let your teen get his or her way sometimes for the sake of keeping a healthy relationship, you should hold your ground with driving privileges until you feel your teen is ready for additional responsibility. Your teen’s life is too important to not be taken seriously.