TEENS BEHIND THE WHEEL

According to the National Safety Council, “traffic crashes are the leading cause of teen fatalities, accounting for 44% of teen deaths in the U.S.” Although this statistic is nothing short of alarming, there are some key things you can do as a parent to keep your teen driver safe.

Practice. Practice. Practice. One major reason that teens have accidents is simply because they are inexperienced drivers. Allowing your teen to drive at every opportunity (with you in the passenger seat, of course) is the best way to give them the experience safe driving requires.

Learn the Risks. Then Eliminate Them. The biggest obstacle that many teenagers face when driving is staying focused. Distractions such as other passengers, food, loud music and cell phones need to be discussed and eliminated whenever possible.

Be on Your Best Behavior. Your teen will look to you for guidance behind the wheel. Not only do you need to set a good example when you are driving, but you also need to watch your behavior when your child is driving. If your child makes a mistake, try not to overreact and further impair their driving. Wait until you are home to discuss larger problems.

Demand Responsibility. Your teen driver needs to understand that driving is a privilege and not a right. Let your child know that they are solely responsible for being a safe driver, and that they will be expected to take ownership of their actions. Having your child share insurance and gas costs might also help instill a sense of responsibility.

Safety Check Their Car. Be sure to inspect tires and brakes, belts and hoses, and other systems that can influence the safety or dependability of the vehicle.