Parents may dread the day their child learns to drive. It is true that driving opens the door for a host of dangerous problems and accidents, but parents can prepare themselves and their teen to minimize the dangers. Here are some tips.
As your teen begins to drive on his own, see that he follows a strict rule regarding the number of passengers in the car. Studies have shown that large groups prove to be quite a distraction for teens, upping the chances for an accident. Make sure your teen understands that he is to have no more than two passengers. Check with your local DMV – there might be an official rule in your jurisdiction that enforces this concept, which means your teen could get a ticket if he breaks the rule.
Also, limiting passengers lessens the chance that your teen will experience negative peer pressure.
When you are the driver, insist on seatbelts. Have your teen do the same. When she drives herself or others, everyone should buckle up. Remind her that this is the law in most places, and she may get ticketed if she doesn’t comply.
If Your Teen Does Get a Ticket…
If your teen breaks the rules and gets pulled over for speeding, not wearing a seatbelt, etc., then he should pay his own ticket. This is a natural consequence of misbehavior, and is almost sure to make a much deeper impression than a paid ticket and a lecture.
No Texting and Driving
Statistics and studies have shown the dangers inherent in texting and driving. If you have to, take your teen’s mobile device away before she gets in the car and give her a simple cell phone for emergencies. Or you can cancel the texting service on her phone. It’s important that teens know texting and driving is a bad habit to get into.
Some jurisdictions have a rule that teens with learner’s licenses/permits may not drive between midnight and 5am. The reasons for this have to do with the dangers of night driving, which include sleepiness, temporary “night blindness” caused by oncoming lights, and the fact that these are the hours when impaired drivers are “on the loose.”
Whether your area has such a rule or not, and whether your teen has his license or not, it’s a good idea to set a curfew that keeps him off the road during the more dangerous hours.
Watch the Speed Limit
It’s important not to exceed the speed limit, and that’s not just to avoid tickets. The chance of having a dangerous or deadly accident increases with speed.
When your teen gets in the car, make sure she adjusts all the mirrors and seats for her height and comfort level before she starts the car.
Regardless of age, drinking and driving is right out. And for teens, it’s illegal to drink at all. Even light alcohol consumption can impair judgment. No alcoholic beverages should be consumed by your teen, ever; when he’s driving it’s even more important.