Car crashes remain the #1 killer of teens, taking about 3,000 young lives each year. In 2015, in Virginia, 60 teens were killed in motor vehicle crashes. Even “good kids” can fall victim to unsafe driving behaviors that can lead to serious injury and death. As a parent you play a vital role in reducing the number of young lives that are taken each year in car crashes. Your teens need your guidance and involvement during the early driving years. Below are some tips to help communicate with your teen, and lead them toward a safer driving experience, especially during the upcoming spring and summer months when teen crashes increase.
•Talk with your teen about safe and unsafe driving behaviors.
•Discuss teen driving laws and their importance. For laws, visit: http://www.dmvnow.com/webdoc/pdf/dmv16.pdf
•Extend the period of supervised driving. Teen drivers are inexperienced and need ongoing instruction throughout the first years of driving.
•Have your teen practice driving on different types of roads and in different driving conditions.
•Enforce the teen passenger restrictions. Crash risks go up significantly for teen drivers when other teens are in the car.
•Make sure your teen isn’t driving in the dark for the first few months after he or she gets a license and enforce the teen curfew law.
•Don’t allow your teen to use a cell phone or participate in other distracting behaviors while driving.
•Insist your teen always obeys the speed limit. Over 50% of all fatal teen crashes are caused by speeding.
•Be sure that your teen is well rested before hitting the road.
•Discuss what to do in potentially dangerous driving situations like poor weather conditions, rough roads, heavy traffic and running off the road.
•Lead by example. Your teens will mimic your driving behaviors.
•Ask your teen questions and be ready to listen.
•Create a Parent-Teen Driving Agreement. CDC.GOV offers a template.
Remember that you are an influential person in your teen’s life and what you say and do makes an impact. If you have any questions, feel free to call Mary King at (540) 375-9581.