There comes a time in every teenager’s life when you have to have “the talk.” The car safety talk, that is…..It’s important to empower your child to have trusting and serious conversations on the importance of driving safety. Not only do you need to have the conversations and lay down the ground rules as parents, but you also need to lead by example.
Here are seven tips and topics that should be discussed.
- Buckle up, every person, front and back, every ride. One of the best ways to keep teens safe is by using a seat belt – no matter where you’re seated in the car. If you wear a seat belt, your kids are more likely to wear one as well. If you never did it before, start using your seat belt. Every time, every single ride.
- Make a family rule: zero tolerance for drinking or impaired driving. There is no safe amount of alcohol a teen can drink before driving. Underage drinking in any capacity is against the law. Couple any impairment (it starts with one drink) with a teen’s inexperience behind the wheel and you have a recipe for disaster. As the parent, make sure you do not drink and drive, either. Teens who have seen their parents drink and drive are three times more likely to follow in their footsteps.
- Limit the number of passengers in your teen’s car. The number of passengers, especially if they are male, is directly related to the increased risk of having a crash. Your state’s Graduated Driver Licensing law often limits the number of passengers allowed in the inexperienced teen’s car. Learn your laws at www.ghsa.org. Make your own “law” to follow if your state does not address this issue.
- Distractions such as texting, talking on the phone and checking email are dangerous for any driver. Anything that takes the driver’s eyes from the road creates danger for everyone around them. Do you text, talk on the phone or read email while driving? If so, it’s safe to say your teen is following your lead.
- Speeding is a big problem for drivers, especially new drivers. What you do matters, so remember – your teen is watching as you set the example and the rules for your family car. Make sure you follow speed limits at all times.
- Nighttime driving takes some extra experience and skill. Parents need to give their teen plenty of supervised opportunities to practice driving at night and in all kinds of different weather and situations. Teen drivers are three times more likely than adults to have a crash at night.
- Teens need encouragement to speak up if they feel unsafe for any reason. Teens told us that they sometimes feel scared, even when they ride with their parents, and they do not know the best way to voice their concerns. Help your teens use the right words or have a plan in place for what to do if they ever feel unsafe in a car. This is a great scenario to play out in the safety of your own home. Always give your teen multiple options for getting home safely.