Clever, Respectful Ways Parents Can Help Teen Drivers Stay Safe Behind the Wheel
For parents, as much as we may be proud of a teen’s new freedom and ability to drive, it often may also trigger 4-5 years of parental anxiety. And the statistics don’t ease our concerns, either. According to Geico, one in five 16-year-old drivers have an accident their first year. Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say that, just in 2016, there were more than 235,000 emergency room injuries related to teen-driving, and even 2,333 related fatalities.
However, teens can become safer behind the wheel, and the State of Georgia assists our cause with its graduated driver’s license law, which places limits on younger drivers and eases those limits gradually.
But what are some other ways to help our teens drive safely?
Set the Example
Young people take their cues from their parents, even when we don’t think they’re watching. Before your teens reach driving age, make a point of driving the way you want them to drive. Don’t excuse your bad driving habits as “experience.” Keep both hands on the wheel, obey traffic laws, don’t use your phone, don’t drive with the music up, etc.
When teens are learning to drive, take it a step further and explain why you make certain decisions behind the wheel, without making it sound like a lecture. You’ll be surprised at how much they retain.
Talk to Them—Like Adults
Teens may see driving privileges as a step toward independence and adulthood, so when you discuss safety, ground rules and boundaries, talk to them like adults rather than children. Reinforce the idea that driving is an adult responsibility, and they are entering a community of adults with this step. If you’ve set the example properly, in the step above, you’ll reinforce the gravity of responsibility, and you’ll help them think of the experience differently.
Let Them Drive More
Seriously—let your teens get behind the wheel at every opportunity. As the New York Times reports, the more experience new drivers get early on, the safer drivers they become. Hand them the keys at family outings; send them to the store for milk. Every opportunity to drive is an opportunity to train them.
If you (or your teen driver) need legal representation for a driving-related incident, we can help. Call Chehimi Law for an appointment at 678-878-3125.