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Keep Teenage Drivers Safe

Keep Teenage Drivers Safe

No one is 100 percent safe on the roads, but there are ways to insure your teen is as safe as possible.

By FamilyTime

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Your teen has her license? Great news, you think, as you send him to the market to pick up a few things, or ask her to pick up a younger sister from soccer practice. Before you get too used to having an extra driver in the family, make sure your teen is as safe behind the wheel as possible.

Unhappily, a disproportionate number of automobile accidents are caused by and involve teens. When the roads might be icy or blocked by piles of snow, parents have more to worry about than usual.

What’s a Parent To Do?

Even if you believe you have already taught your son or daughter everything you know about driving, and even if you feel your child is a safe driver, stay on top of it.

The AAA and the Center for Disease Control both encourage parents to continue coaching sessions with their newly licensed offspring. Most driving expertise comes from road experience, and the more calm, constructive driving time your teen gets, the better. With you in the passenger seat, the experience is especially useful.

Respect the State’s Restrictions

Many states have adopted graduated licensing programs. These seem cumbersome to some families, overly restrictive and even punitive. They are none of those things. In states where teens earn driving privileges based on a series of hurdles, the accident rate goes down. Significantly.

Most of the restrictions concern the number and age of passengers allowed in the car and the time of day a teen can be behind the wheel. Studies show that with every young passenger, the chance of an accident increases. Ditto for driving after 9 or 10 p.m. The majority of car crashes involving teens happen between 9 p.m. and midnight.

Speed and Seat Belts

Teens are the least likely age group to wear seat belts. They are known to pile kids into a car, letting them sit on each other’s laps or ride in the back of a hatchback or station wagon.

Talk to your kids about the importance of seat belts. Make sure he or she knows only to offer rides to passengers if there are enough seat belts. Explain to your child that it is not rude or pushy to insist his passengers buckle up.

Teens also are the age group most likely to speed. The teenage brain does not process danger as effectively as do more fully developed brains. Add to this the adrenaline rush of high speed and the risk it involves, and you have a prescription for disaster.

According to the AAA and other groups, teens speed most egregiously when other teens are in the car. Friends egg on the driver, whoop and cheer when their car drag races with another, crank up the radio, and overall distract the young driver.

Drinking, Texting and Driving

It’s an old song, but one with deadly consequences. Driving and drinking and driving and drugging never, ever mix. Be certain your child understands this. If it seems appropriate, encourage the concept of a designated driver. Your child and his friends can take turns assuming the mantle.

Let your children know that you will pick them up or pay for a taxi should they find themselves impaired. This applies, too, to a teen who depends on another for transportation. If the driver is not able to drive, the passenger should have someone he or she can call.

Teens should never be apprehensive about calling a parent or another responsible adult should they need a safe ride.

And finally, remind your teen to stay off the phone and to never, ever text while driving.

Teenage driving is serious business. Knowing how to handle themselves on the highway is essential for anyone headed for adulthood. With some sensible guidelines, your teenager should be well on his or her way.

Buckle up! It could be a bumpy few years.

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