Driving can open up new opportunities for teens but with those opportunities comes responsibility. It’s important for teens to understand those responsibilities and for parents to set appropriate expectations. With school starting shortly it’s a good time to sit down with your teen driver and have a discussion about your rules and expectations on how they use a car, whether they have their own or borrow yours. Here are five subjects you’ll want to cover with your teenager when it comes to driving.
1) Distracted Driving. According to the FCC, distracted driving accounted for 16% of all fatal crashes in 2008 and 21% of accidents involving injuries. Distractions can include texting, talking on the phone and even scrolling through a playlist on your MP3 player. When you’re in a car, remember that no text or phone call is worth injuring or killing yourself, your passengers and others on the road. If you need to call or text someone for directions or to let them know you’re on your way, pull into a parking lot or a safe area along the road with plenty of room between your vehicle and moving traffic
2) Driving under the influence. Automobile accidents are the leading cause of death among teens, with one third of those deaths being alcohol related, according to the organization Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Avoiding situations with alcohol and drug use is the best way to avoid driving under the influence or riding with someone who is under the influence. If necessary make arrangements to have a designated driver or call someone else for a ride. There are no consequences that are worse than injuring or killing yourself or others.
3) Passenger Safety. As a driver, you have a responsibility for the passengers in your vehicle. Make sure you and your passengers all have their seatbelts on before leaving and during all trips- whether down the street or outside town. A driver should make sure that passengers don’t lean out of windows, throw things from a moving vehicle or engage in other horseplay.
4) Obeying traffic laws. While this seems obvious, making an effort to follow all the laws as a new driver will help establish good driving habits and avoid bad ones like excessive speeding and rolling through stop signs.
5) Protecting the vehicle and its contents. Whether going to the mall or driving to school, remember to lock the car doors. Thieves look for easy targets, and if they see a GPS unit, a phone, CD’s etc. in an unlocked car you’ve made their job easy. Remember to do a quick scan for anything that might be tempting to a thief and either take it with you or stow it in the glove box, or under a seat.