When my five boys were growing up, I was a pretty laid back mom. You wouldn’t find me chasing them around the playground with a tissue because their noses were runny, or hopping over the little league fence because one of them got hit by a pitch.
It wasn’t the end of the world if they didn’t get to bed on time, or if they snuck a cookie or two before dinner. But in the blink of an eye something changed, and my anxiety levels went through the roof.
They started driving! As parents, we all worry about our teens getting behind the wheel, but there are some things we can do to try to keep them safe.
PUT IN THE TIME
Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death in teenagers in the U.S.. Half of all teenagers will be involved in a crash before they graduate high school. This is because they just don’t have the experience, so log in as many hours in the car with your teen as you can.
Do this even after they have obtained their driver’s license. As you drive with them, teach them the rules of the road and point out potential hazardous situations they may not notice (such as kids playing ball in their front yard). Try to log in hours at night and during adverse weather conditions as well.
Also, when you are driving in the car with your teens, be mindful that kids are “monkey see, monkey do.” Therefore, pay attention to and try to correct your own faulty driving habits.There are some online tools available to help you and your teen set driving goals, such as teendrivingplangoalguide and teendrivingplanloggingandrating tool.
Check in with your insurance company to see if they have any teen safe programs as well, such as Metlife’s relationship with “teensmart” which offers driving simulations and interactive lessons.
ACCIDENT PREVENTION COURSE
Enroll your teen in an accident prevention course, or take one as a family. Course listings can be found on the NYS DMV website. This course provides valuable lessons in accident avoidance, and as an added bonus, will save you money on your auto insurance.
Restricting both the number of passengers you allow your teen to drive with and the number of hours driven at night can greatly reduce the chances of an incident. A study done by AAA in 2012 found that for drivers between the ages of 16-17, the risk of a fatal accident increased by 44% with one passenger in the car. This doubled with two passengers and QUADRUPLED with three or more, with the most serious of these crashes happening at night.
While teen boys are more apt to speed, teen girls are more likely to use their cell phones while driving. Most phones have a “do not disturb while driving” mode that can be turned on while in the car. There are also many apps that can help monitor and prevent distracted driving;
LIfesaver, Safedriver, and Motovatesafedriving are a few. Compare them and more on your phone’s app store. Several insurance companies also have devices that can be installed in cars to monitor driving habits such as speeding and hard braking.
Check in with your insurance company. While you may be eligible for some discounts for using the device, you will not be charged more based on the results of the monitoring.
The percentage of young drivers who drink and drive has gone down over the years, but it is still a factor in fatal accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) completed a study in 2011 and reported that about a million high school students admitted to consuming alcohol before driving.
Even if you don’t think your child would ever drink and drive, have the talk with him/her every time they go out. Have a plan in place for your teen to call you for a ride home if they are in that situation, or install the Uber or Lyft app on their phone.
It is important to keep your teen’s vehicle well maintained, bringing it in for servicing on a regular basis. If you have the expertise, show your teen some basics, such as how to change a tire or check the oil and other fluids. An annual auto club membership, such as AAA would be a nice gift!
If you are looking into a vehicle for your child, the NHTSA reports that a mid to full sized vehicle is the safest option for teens. Vehicle safety ratings can be found on the NHTSA site.
FAMILY DRIVING AGREEMENTS
It helps to lay out all of the “rules of the road” as soon as or before your teen becomes licensed. There are several sites that have family driving agreements that can be signed by parents and teens. Look over ncs.org, aaa.com or the cdc website.
While you can’t prevent accidents from occurring in your life, you can be sure you are well prepared for them. As soon as your child obtains a permit, be sure to report this to your insurance company.
While most companies will not rate for permitted drivers, they still need to know about them. This is also a good time to review the liability limits on your policy. If they are low, consider increasing them. Look into an umbrella policy as well! Good luck everyone and be safe!
If you have questions about your teen drivers and how to keep them safe call us or click here.
By Karen Anderson
Sources: iii.org, healthychildren.org, ncs.org, dmv.ny.gov,injury.research.chop.edu, adeptdriver.com