According to a recent article published in U.S. News and World Report, car accidents are the number one cause of death among teens, and this problem gets worse during the summer. Luckily, if you are a parent of a teen, there are a variety of things you can do to help your teen drive safer and reduce the chances of your child being involved in a car accident, which could result in personal injury or even death.
First, model the behaviors you expect. This means turning off your cellphone, silencing it, or putting it out of reach while you are driving. If your teen sees you using a phone while driving, even if you have told your teen not to use his or her phone while driving, you have shown that driving while using a cellphone is acceptable behavior.
Another behavior you should model is seatbelt use. Teens are the least likely to use their seatbelt even though seatbelt are known to reduce the risk of crash-related injuries and deaths by roughly half. You may not be in the vehicle every time your teen drives, but you can demonstrate the importance of a seatbelt when you are in the vehicle.
Second, establish rules for your teen’s driving. Many parents establish rules about radio usage or the number of passengers the teen can have while driving. Not only is it important to establish these rules, but also it is important to tell your teen why these rules are important. Let your teen know that as he or she becomes a more experienced driver and as responsible driving skills have been demonstrated, the rules will become less strict.
Finally, consider signing The New Driver Deal with your teen. This contract or agreement puts forth expectations for your teen’s driving and helps the teen to see when greater driving responsibility will be awarded. It also makes parents responsible for helping their teen become better drivers. If teens and parents know the rules and respect the rules, the likelihood of a car accident can be reduced.