Getting a driver’s license is a rite of passage that most teenagers look forward to. A license gives teens freedom, a sense of power and ease to do things for themselves. As a parent, you have mixed emotions about your child getting their license. You know they’ve studied driving rules and have practiced behind the wheel. It will be convenient for you when they can drive to their own activities at school.
But you also worry about them. Car accidents can happen to anyone at any time. You want to do everything you can to ensure that your child is as safe as possible when they are in the driver’s seat.
What The Statistics Say
In 2017, Alabama was ranked second for number of teen driving fatalities. Many of these deaths were linked to driving under the influence, driving while distracted or not taking proper safety precautions like wearing a seat belt. These are all preventable causes, and you can take steps to eliminate these errors with your teen.
What You Can Do
You can encourage safe driving practices by setting up some extra rules. Rather than just letting your child hit the open road, have a conversation and put these tips into practice:
- Set a routine: Help your teen create a routine to follow every time they get in the car. Together, pick a place where they will put their phone and belongings to avoid distractions. Have them double check their seat belt, seat placement and mirrors. Encourage them to have their radio set prior to shifting the vehicle out of park.
- Set restrictions: Only let your teen drive to certain places, using specific routes. You can slowly ease them into more trafficked areas.
- Enforce check-ins: Have your teen check in with you once they have reached their location. You know how long it takes to go to each destination, and this practice can help hold your teen accountable to your preset routes.
- Continue practicing: When your teen has their license in hand, they may think they know everything they need to. The old saying is that “practice makes perfect,” and applying that to driving skill is important. Inexperience can lead to distractions and mistakes. Set aside time every week or two for a driving lesson.
- Talk about distractions: Distracted driving is typically associated with texting. However, it is important to talk to your teen about other forms of distractions—such as eating or talking to passengers while driving.
The most important thing to remember is to keep an open line of communication with your teen. Ask about how they feel behind the wheel. Talk about what to do in certain scenarios, and always prepare them for different weather conditions.