Few things are as frightening to a parent as handing the car keys over to a teenager, and with good reason. Accident rates for teen drivers, especially males, are far higher than for almost all other groups. While there is no way to fully protect your teenage driver, there are some things you can do to improve his or her odds on the highways.
Parents should express, in no uncertain terms, a no tolerance policy for driving after consuming alcohol. I was a pretty challenging teenager to raise, but I never drove after drinking because my father made me realize how badly I would feel if I ever hurt anyone and because I was convinced he meant it when he said I would never again drive while living under his roof if it was discovered that I drove after drinking.
Of course, you must take your own advice. If your teen driver observes you drinking after driving, he or she is far less likely to observe your mandate.
Be sure that your teenager understands that staying at least two seconds behind the car in front of him/her provides insurance against sudden stop accidents, one of the most common causes of highway injuries.
As you might guess, research has shown that the more teens there are riding in a car, the more likely the car is to be involved in an accident. Thus, limiting a new driver to one or two passengers may be worth considering.
Parents should not assume that passing a driver education course is a guarantee of competency. In fact, very few students fail driver education courses, however unskilled they may be. Ride with your teenager, assess his or her skills, and provide instruction as necessary.
While there are no reliable statistics, there are lots of stories about cell phones and accidents. As tough a sell as it might be, try to get the young drivers in your family to promise to pull off the road if their cell phones ring or they feel the need to make a call.
Seat belts can’t prevent accidents, but they do prevent serious injuries and death. Impress that on your teen.
Remember, preaching safe driving is not a one time event. The more you remind your teenager(s) about the principles of safe driving, the better.