How parents can help protect their new teenage drivers

Parents have to balance their kids’ happiness with their safety every day. From decisions about the best diet for kids who might be happy subsisting on potato chips and soda to setting rules about internet use, parents often wind up being the proverbial bad guy when they have to respond to their children’s preferences and wishes.

In some ways, these discussions about safety and personal decisions can become easier as your children get older. They will understand certain basic obligations and requirements, even if they aren’t particularly pleased about them. However, they will also be in increasingly dangerous situations, including driving a motor vehicle on their own.

Given that motor vehicle crashes remain a major cause of teenage deaths and that younger drivers are several times more likely than drivers over the age of 25 to get into serious crashes, it’s important that you have safety rules in place to reduce the risk of your child getting hurt in a crash or possibly hurting someone else.

Make sure your kids can get home safely when they can’t drive

Perhaps one of the biggest risks that teenage drivers may take involves getting behind the wheel after having too much to drink. They may worry about the consequences if they don’t make it home by curfew or feel afraid about getting punished if their parents find out they decided to drink with their friends.

Having a rule where your child can call for a safe ride home without punishment if they are ever under the influence of alcohol or drugs can make it easier for them to reach out to you and avoid a dangerous situation.

Make rules to help your teenager avoid distracted driving

Explaining to your teen that they can’t text or use social media while driving may seem like a straightforward expectation. However, given that their peers likely engage in distracted driving, many teams may not think it is as dangerous as it is. This is one area where it is important for you to lead by example.

Teach your kids to turn off their ringer and put the phone aside so that they don’t feel the temptation to reach out for it. If they see you do it every time you get into the car, they may be more likely to follow suit when they drive with you.

Additionally, distraction caused by other people in the vehicle can be just as dangerous as distraction from a phone. Limit the number of people that your teen can have in their vehicle at one time or consider prohibiting them from driving their friends around at all. While it may not be fun, it can help keep them safe.