According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) drivers aged 15 to 19 were more likely to be distracted than drivers from other age groups. Due to their young age and lack of life experience, teens often don’t fully grasp the severity of the consequences their poor decisions can have on them and those around them.
If you’re raising a teenager who has begun driving or is working towards their license, you have the power to prevent your child from causing a car crash by educating them on the consequences of distracted driving.
1. Set Clear Rules
It may not be the most fun conversation to have with your teen driver, but setting clear rules is a safety basic that can help save their lives. Consider limiting the number of passengers permitted in the car, agreeing to a reasonable volume level for their music, or specifying how they should or shouldn’t use their phone while in the car. Whatever guidelines you think are best, discuss them in advance and write up a driving contract to seal the deal.
Bonus Tip: It may be tempting to speak in an authoritative manner, but talking to your teen, instead of talking at them can go a long way.
2. Be a Good Example
From the moment they’re born, our kids keep a close eye on what we say and do – even when we don’t think they can hear or see us. As parents, we’re the biggest influence on the kind of pedestrian, bicyclist, and driver your child will become. Set a positive example for your teen driver by staying completely focused on the road, putting your cell phone away when in traffic, obeying the speed limit, and limiting other distractions like eating and talking.
Bonus Tip: Sending mixed messages also weakens your negotiating positions. Children sometimes mimic the behaviors of their parents, no matter how many times the parents say, “Do as I say, not as I do.” Only a comprehensive commitment to safe driving among family members can lead to long-term results.
3. Establish a Pre-Trip Checklist
From the first time your teen gets behind the wheel — and before he or she ever turns a key in the ignition — teach preparation habits that reduce the risk of distracted driving. Among the tasks to complete in advance: finding sunglasses, setting music and temperature controls, adjusting mirrors, removing a jacket, and setting GPS navigation routes. That way, teens can then focus their full attention on the main task at hand.
Bonus Tip: Set time aside to get in the car with your teen and drive as often as possible. This will allow you to see the areas where they need extra help and encourage safe driving tactics.
4. Consider Driving Safety Apps
We all know that teenagers are attached to their cell phones, and sometimes the urge is stronger than common sense. In fact, a 2019 study from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) showed that almost 40% of high school students who drove in the past 30 days admitted to texting or emailing while driving on at least one of those days. Consider having your teen driver download an app like DriveMode or TextDrive, which silences alerts, phone calls, and texts and can send out auto-replies while driving.
Bonus Tip: Parents can sign up to receive alerts when children turn off or disable the app.
5. Recognize and Reward Efforts
If your teen has made a conscious effort to practice safe driving, it may be a good idea to reward them for good behavior.
Bonus Tip: Think small! Small rewards based on good decisions and consistent improvement can help new drivers improve street smarts.
Do you have any driving safety tips of your own? Share with us in the comments below!
Arbor Insurance Group provides car insurance, home insurance, and other personal insurance products throughout the Lehigh Valley, including Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton, Emmaus, Macungie, and surrounding areas.