What Parents Can Do To Keep Teenage Drivers Safe
Published: November 21, 2015
“Can I borrow the car?”. How many times have Moms and Dads around the world heard this question? Millions? Billions? When you are a teenager, there is something about the freedom of driving that is irresistible. Many of us never lose that feeling.
My son is thirteen and is already excited to start driving. I remember feeling that same way and put countless miles on my parent’s vehicles. Thanks Mom and Dad.
Reaching your teens is a milestone. Responsibilities increase and you get some status and swagger. You test your limits and, frankly, the limits of those around you. Or, it can go the other way and be an incredibly awkward and stressful period of life. Getting in the car and going for a drive works if you are feeling fantastic or feeling melancholy and want to think about life. No wonder we have a love affair with cars.
We know. We’ve all been there. The teenage years are a rollercoaster of new experiences and hormones. Being a teenager almost demands that you screw up. It’s not on purpose, most of the time, it’s just how you learn about relationships and character and responsibility.
And, being a teenager is when you truly know everything about everything. Nobody is smarter than a teenager. Particularly their parents. They know nothing. Parents are old and the world is different now.
So sometimes you just need to smile and nod. We give teens some space to find their way and make their own mistakes. But, there is one place where teenagers can’t afford to screw up. And that’s behind the wheel.
Teenage driving statistics.
So, here’s the thing. The numbers on teens getting hurt or killed in cars is frightening. It is the number one killer of 16-21 year olds. Number one. The age of highest risk is sixteen years, an age when they are just getting started in life. It’s hard to imagine what that would do to a parent. And don’t forget the other drivers and pedestrians that are at risk from unprepared new drivers. The results can be just as tragic.
Could there possibly be anything worse than losing a child, particularly if it is preventable? No. There is nothing worse.
Steps to take to keep new drivers safe.
The rules are stricter now than when we were young. They include graduated licenses, imposed curfews, restrictions on passengers and a zero tolerance on phone use. Do the restrictions annoy some people? Probably. Is it worth it to keep our kids safe? Absolutely.
- Here are some basics that new drivers need to live by (no pun intended);
- Everybody in the car uses a seatbelt.
- Don’t speed.
- Match your speed to weather conditions, not the posted allowed maximum speed.
- Don’t let your ego suck you into showing off.
- Don’t ever race against others drivers.
- Zero drinking or “smoking”.
- Zero texting.
- Zero calling including hands-free.
- Have a 360 degree awareness of the environment around you. Use your mirrors.
- Assume other drivers are not paying attention and don’t know what they are doing.
Technology to the rescue?
There is an app for just about everything. It’s no surprise that cars and safety are now included. Cars are computers with wheels. Plugging into the ECU (electronic control unit) helps technicians diagnose problems. The ECU also tracks data that can be used for other purposes.
Insurance companies are watching.
There are some interesting changes in technology that are designed to monitor and influence driving habits. Insurance companies are offering discounted rates in exchange for having access to your driving data. This level of corporate insight makes many people uncomfortable. What if the data is not in your favor? But, for a substantial discount on their insurance people are signing up.
Would you use an app to monitor their driving behavior?
There are apps available that connect your smartphone with the car’s electronics. These allow you to remotely monitor driving behavior.
Is this a good idea? Wouldn’t this set up an environment of mistrust between parents and children? It depends on the situation, I suppose, and perhaps useful in a repeat offender circumstance.
Automatically turn off calling and texting.
A number of applications will automatically turn off, or manage, calling and texting ability. These are downloaded to the user’s phone.
Distracted driving is a huge issue. It now kills more teens than drinking does. And remember that teens learn by example. Are you texting and driving?
Driving when you are teen can be a great expression of your freedom. We just need to make sure they come home safely.
If you have parenting experiences with teen drivers, we would love to hear them in the comments section.