Memorial Day kicks off “The 100 Deadliest Days of Driving,” the period in which more teen drivers die in auto accidents than any other time of the year. This likely has a lot do with the fact that during summer, teens travel more for recreation, often drive their friends around, and stay out later at night.
How can I keep my teen safe behind the wheel this summer?
Deborah Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council (NSC) explains to parents: “Putting our teens behind the wheel is the most dangerous thing we do as parents, and summer is an especially deadly time. While state laws allow teens to drive, parents have the opportunity and the obligation to establish ground rules and expected behaviors for safe driving. Parental engagement improves the odds for young drivers returning home over the next 100 days.”
You can do several things to reduce your teen’s risk of collisions. For starters:
- Set a good example and practice often with your new teen driver. Model good driving behaviors and talk openly with your teen about safety issues.
- Specify the driving rules your teen must follow and the consequences that will follow if she breaks these rules. Baseline rules include things such as never drinking and driving, no texting and driving, always wearing a seatbelt, sticking to a designated curfew, and not carrying more than one or two passengers.
- Use apps that monitor your teen’s phone use while driving. Many apps, such as Drive Smart, DriveScribe, and Drivesafe.ly, can help you monitor your teen while she is on the road.
- Check out and use some of the freely available resources on the internet that can help promote safe driving with your teen. Resources you might want to look into include the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s “5 to Drive” campaign materials, the NSC’s Drive It Home website, and the Pennsylvania DOT’s The Parent’s Supervised Driving Program.
- Do not forget the power of media and social media. Periodically tag your teen in powerful public safety announcements, such as this one or Colin Kaepernick’s Avoiding Collisions from Impact Teen Drivers. You can also text her some poignant infographics like the ones offered by Traffic Safety Marketing. (Your teen might huff a little when she sees the notification, but after she sees the post, the underlying message will find its way into her subconscious.)
We will leave you with some excellent parting words from the NHTSA: “Research tells us that teens listen to their parents, and that you influence your kid’s driving habits. Remind your teenager that driving is a privilege — a privilege they will lose if they don’t drive by your rules.”