Teenage Driving: Parents Should be More Involved
As teenagers get older and become more independent, parents are faced with the challenges of “letting go” while still looking out for their child’s safety. However, one area in which it is not only advisable but perhaps vital for parents to get more involved is when teenagers get behind the wheel.
It is also an area where all teens are at risk. Even the most responsible teenager who doesn’t otherwise engage in risky behavior faces an especially high risk at this time, both as drivers and as passengers of their newly licensed friends. We expect that all teens will make mistakes and learn from them, but mistakes made behind the wheel of a car can be deadly.
A recent NYT article outlines some of the teenage driving risk factors more fully. According to researchers, parents can and should take a more active role in their teenager’s driving by “being a backseat parent,” setting restrictions, and setting a good example. Maintaining a conversation about driving habits and continuing their driving education even after they have become licensed can help lower teens’ chances of a crash.
What you may not know…
So what’s the most dangerous factor? Alcohol? Cell phone use? Speed? All of these are factors in teenage driving crashes. Alcohol is a factor in about one-third of fatal teen car accidents, and young people are more likely than any other age group to be distracted by compulsively checking a cell phone.
But, the presence of other passengers may be the highest crash risk factor. Researchers found that the addition of one (non-family) passenger increased the chances of a crash by 44%. That risk doubled with the addition of a second passenger.
What can parents of teen drivers do?
Experts recommend a few strategies to help lower your teenager’s chances of a car accident, including:
- Limit the number of passengers your child has in the car
- Limit late-night driving, as this is the peak time of day for car accidents
- Consider safety ratings and safety technology features when choosing a car for your teen driver
- Insist that teen drivers keep their phone in a purse or backpack, or to turn off notifications while driving. There are apps available that will silence a smartphone while in “driving mode.”
- Set a positive example by exhibiting good driving habits like maintaining a safe speed, always using a turn signal, and refusing to indulge in distractions like texting
Ultimately, it is important that parents pay attention to their child’s driving habits and skill level. Just because your teenager has his/her license doesn’t mean they are done learning. Most states impose restrictions on newly licensed drivers for six months after receiving a license, but it may be wise to extend those restrictions if you feel it is necessary.
If you or someone you love have been in a a car accident, you may be able to collect compensation for your medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Call our office for a free consultation, and we will review the details of your unique situation and help you determine how to proceed.
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