You likely have worries about your teenager driving independently, especially since in the U.S., motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death among teens. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also states that 2,364 teens between the ages of 16 to 19 died in car accidents in 2017, and 300,000 teens went to the emergency room for car accident-related injuries the same year.
Lack of driving experience and immaturity are two factors that contribute to the high car accident rate among teenagers. Luckily, there are steps you can take as a parent to help your teen stay safe and make good decisions when he or she gets behind the wheel.
1. Lead by example
Your behavior when you drive makes an impression on your teen driver. Show your teen what safe driving looks like by always wearing your seat belt, never texting while driving, keeping your cool in stressful driving situations and obeying the posted speed limit.
2. Make time for practice
Your teen will become a better driver, and less likely to sustain injuries in a car crash, if he or she has plenty of driving practice. Consider enrolling your teenager in a driver’s education course and make sure you drive with him or her frequently to solidify his or her driving skills.
3. Discuss the dangers of unsafe driving
Your teen will be less likely to drive recklessly and engage in unsafe driving behaviors if he or she understands the impact of these actions. Sit down and talk to your teenager about why it is so important to drive safely and how his or her actions can significantly affect others when behind the wheel of a car.
4. Institute a set of rules
The state of New Jersey maintains a Graduated License Program for new drivers that places restrictions on permitting, night driving and passengers. You may desire to institute a set of rules that go beyond these restrictions to keep your teen driver safe, such as not letting him or her drive on busy freeways or only letting him or her drive to and from work.