Has Your Little Baby Suddenly Become A TEEN DRIVER ?
Seems like just yesterday they were starting kindergarten, NOW they are asking for the car keys.
5 Things to Discuss with Your New Teen Driver
Driving can open up new opportunities for teens but with those opportunities comes responsibility. It’s important for teens to understand those responsibilities and for parents to set appropriate expectations.
With school now in session, it’s a good time to sit down with your teen driver and have a discussion about your rules and expectations on how they use a car. This is important whether they have their own car or borrow yours. Here are five subjects you’ll want to cover with your teenager when it comes to driving.
1) Distracted Driving.
According to the FCC, distracted driving accounted for 16% of all fatal crashes in 2008 and 21% of accidents involving injuries. Distractions can include texting, talking on the phone and even scrolling through a playlist on your MP3 player. When you’re in a car, remember that no text or phone call is worth injuring or killing yourself, your passengers, or others on the road.
Fact: 60% of drivers use cell phones while driving. Help change this.
Simple rule: NEVER USE A MOBILE PHONE WHILE DRIVING. NEVER! EVER!
NO texting and NO Talking! Forget Bluetooth. There is just NO reason to make a phone call while driving. Secure the phone away so that it is out of reach and not a temptation. If you can ingrain this one habit into your child’s driving schema, you will lower their chances of having a major accident by 70%.
If you need to call or text someone for directions or to let them know you’re on your way, pull into a parking lot, or pick a safe area along the road with plenty of room between your vehicle and moving traffic. It’s worth repeating: NEVER USE THE MOBILE PHONE WHILE DRIVING. Drill this into your kids over and over and set a good example.
Distracted driving is becoming the largest killer of teens. Be sure they understand this. If you see them making this mistake, make SURE you correct them. Habits are easily formed; make sure that putting the cell phone away is as natural as putting on the seat belt.
Using a cell phone while driving, whether it’s handheld or hands-free, delays a driver’s reactions as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent (University of Utah 2009)
Most of us have NO idea how distracted we really are when we use these devices. A 2009 Virginia Tech study concluded that texting while driving takes a driver’s focus away from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds – enough time to travel the entire length of a football field at 55 mph!! Scary isn’t it?
2) Driving under the influence.
Speaking of the legal limit… automobile accidents are the leading cause of death among teens, with one third of those deaths being alcohol related, according to the organization Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Avoiding situations with alcohol and drug use is the best way to avoid driving under the influence or riding with someone who is under the influence. If necessary, make arrangements to have a designated driver or call someone else for a ride. There are no consequences worse than injuring or killing yourself or others.
Make a special agreement with your child. If they find themselves in a position where they would be exposed to drunk driving, allow them to call home for a ride with NO QUESTIONS ASKED. I know you’re going to be tempted to yell at them when you pick them up but, take a deep breath and avoid the lecture. Picking them up at a party is a better option than picking them up at the hospital, police station or worse…
Work it out in advance. You know there will be a time when they are exposed to alcohol or drugs at some event or party. Let them know that a safe ride, without any questions asked, is just a phone call away with no yelling. Let a comfortable period of time go by (a day or two) and then use this as an opening for discussion. Compliment and praise your child for making the phone call and discuss the dangers of riding with or driving while under the influence. Make sure that the phone call is not a reason for punishment. If they don’t make the phone call and end up driving home or riding home with someone that has been drinking, then by all means, ground away. My mom would have also considered corporal punishment as an option. 🙂
3) Passenger Safety.
As a driver, you are responsible for the passengers in your vehicle. Make sure you and your passengers all have their seatbelts on before leaving and during all trips, whether down the street or across town. A driver should make sure that passengers don’t lean out of windows, throw things from a moving vehicle or engage in other horseplay or dangerous distraction.
4) Obeying traffic laws.
While this seems obvious, making an effort to follow all the laws as a new driver will help establish good driving habits and avoid bad ones like excessive speeding and rolling through stop signs. YOU, the parent must be a good example. Your kids will get their driving habits from YOU.
If you are constantly speeding or doing the “Hollywood stop” (rolling though stop signs), then chances are they will as well. Don’t have a radar detector in your car; this only gives a signal to the kids that it is OK to speed as long as you don’t get caught. Yes, I know it is difficult in today’s world to follow the rules, you only have so many hours in the day, but please make sure you set a good example because your kids will be a reflection of you without your years of experience.
Speeding kills. Study after study has confirmed this. BE AN EXAMPLE.
5) Protecting the vehicle and its contents.
Whether going to the mall or driving to school, remember to lock the car doors. Thieves look for easy targets, and if they see a GPS unit, a phone, backpacks, etc. in an unlocked car you’ve made their job easy. Remember to do a quick scan for anything that might be tempting to a thief and either take it with you or stow it in the glove box, under a seat or in the trunk.
If you have a teen driver, call us TODAY to find about how you can insure your teen driver and what your options for obtaining coverage are if they have their own car. We can also help explain how the coverage works and what they should do in the event of an accident. We have lots of brochures and literature that will help you get a handle on this new life event.
One of our new programs is the Progressive SnapShot. This device records hard breaks, as well as the number of miles driven. Frequent hard break are a sign of tailgating or driving too fast for conditions. You can log in daily to see driving patterns and use this as a way of sitting down with your teen to analyze their driving. Don’t become “Big Brother”, just let your teen know that for the first few months you will have weekly “sit downs” to go over their driving patterns. You can even have contests to see who has better SnapShot reports!
Reinforcing actions EARLY can establish good safe driving habits that will last your child a lifetime.