Teenage driving and specifically driving safety is getting more and more traction in the news. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has just launched the 5 To Drive campaign. All of these campaigns are encouraging parents to initiate discussions with their teen drivers about safety.
I have long been a proponent of driving contracts and luckily my three sons abided by the contract and never had a “significant” accident. There were a few of the “I backed into the fence”, or “I just didn’t see the car when I backed out of the parking space”, but beyond that we were blessed with accident free teen years. I also believe that they were maybe a bit more cautious because they had to pay for 1/2 of their insurance premium each year, as well as having other perks (like gas) tied to their grades. Having some of their own hard earned money in the game made them realize consequences for accidents would also mean higher insurance premiums and more money out of their wallets.
The NHTSA safety topics for parents to discuss with their teens are:
No cell phone use or texting while driving - no exceptions
No extra passengers - parents also need to follow their own state laws on this topic as graduated drivers licenses enforce different lengths of time before allowing teens any extra passengers (which are definitely distracting)
No driving or riding without a seat belt
There were 2,105 teen drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2011 and 45% of the teens involved died in those wrecks as well. The topics for parents to discuss with their teens are on the list as all of these behaviors seen in adolescent drivers are known to contribute to the high death rate among teens.
Another recent study from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in collaboration with State Farm Insurance found that “teenagers were 50% less likely to crash when parents set clear rules, kept track of their teens activities and did so in a supportive manner”.
Take the time to discuss the safe driver rules and model behavior while you are at the wheel as well. Distracted driving affects everyone.....as I continue to remind myself to stay off the phone in the car, even though I finally did get hands free for the phone.