If you are the parent of a new driver, it can be very worrisome and restless when you know they are on the road. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of 2016, six teenagers die every day in motor vehicle crashes, and hundreds more are injured. It is the leading cause of death among this age group.
But, it does not have to be this way. Knowing these danger zones and what you can do as a parent can help your teen driver with a mindset for safety each time they get behind the wheel.
Danger Zone #1
Crash risk is highest in the first year a teen has their license.
- Provide at least 30 to 50 hours of supervised driving practice over at least six months.
- Practice on a variety of roads, at different times of day, and in varied weather and traffic conditions.
- Stress the importance of continually scanning for potential hazards including other vehicles, bicyclists, and pedestrians.
Danger Zone #2
DRIVING WITH TEEN PASSENGERS
The crash risk goes up when teens drive with other teens in the car.
- Follow your state’s system for passenger restrictions. If your state doesn’t have such a rule, limit the number of teen passengers your teen can have to zero or one.
- Keep this rule for at least the first six months that your teen is driving.
Danger Zone #3
For all ages, fatal crashes are more likely to occur at night; but the risk is higher for teens.
- Make sure your teen is off the road by 9 or 10 p.m. for at least the first six months of licensed driving.
- Practice nighttime driving with your teen when you think they are ready.
Danger Zone #4
NOT USING SEAT BELTS
The simplest way to prevent car crash deaths is to buckle up.
- Require your teen to wear a seat belt on every trip. This simple step can reduce your teen’s risk of dying or being badly injured in a crash by about half.
Danger Zone #5
Distractions increase your teen’s risk of being in a crash.
- Don’t allow activities that may take your teen’s attention away from driving, such as talking on a cell phone, texting, eating, or playing with the radio.
Danger Zone #6
Young drivers are at high risk for drowsy driving, which causes thousands of crashes every year. Teens are most tired and at risk when driving in the early morning or late at night.
- Know your teen’s schedule so you can be sure he or she is well-rested before getting behind the wheel.
Danger Zone #7
Research shows that teens lack the experience, judgment, and maturity to assess risky situations.
- Make sure your teen knows to follow the speed limit and adjust their speed to match road conditions.
- Remind your teen to maintain enough space behind the vehicle ahead to avoid a crash in case of a sudden stop.
Danger Zone #8
Even one drink will impair your teen’s driving ability and increase their risk of a crash.
- Be a good role model: never drink and drive
- Reinforce this message with a Parent-Teen Driving Agreement.