Talking Points to Ensure Your Teen Driver Doesn’t Drive Out of Control This Summer
When you were a teenager, you looked forward to this time of year since the moment school began—Summer. Glorious, glorious summer. As soon as the last bell rang you ran to your car, rolled down the windows, and prepared yourself for three months of pure freedom.
Yes, those were the days. However, now that you have teenagers of your own, the care-free mentality that you had has been replaced with concern and foreboding.
Summer Driving Risks
According to many driving experts, summer is often the most dangerous season for teens on the road. In addition to the excitement of being out of school, there are many activities in summer geared toward teens. Graduation parties…summer vacations…road trips, these are all activities that your teenager will be participating in this summer—all of which require driving. If your teenager doesn’t drive himself, he will most likely be chauffeured by another teen.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that young drivers are at the highest risk of being in a fatal car crash. In fact, 22 percent of car accidents are caused by negligent drivers between the ages of 15 and 24. Why is this? Well, teens are inexperienced drivers in the first place, but also have the added disadvantage of becoming easily distracted while driving, especially if they’re driving in a car with other teens. Common distractions include:
- Cell phone use and texting.
- Peer pressure to speed, break the rules, or drive aggressively.
- A sense of entitlement—teenagers tend to believe that they’re invincible and can do whatever they want, whenever they want, without consequence.
- Intoxication. Even though the legal drinking age is 21, many children begin drinking as early as thirteen or fourteen.
Also, having other passengers in the car and driving at night have already been found to contribute to the likelihood of an accident with a teen driver.
Protecting Your Teen With a Talk
Parents are encouraged to talk to their teens about distracted driving risks and discuss the following safe driving tactics. Young drivers should have learned about common dangers in driver’s education. However, teens are more receptive to internalizing information from their parents than teachers—especially when they don’t have their friends around to distract them from what you’re saying.
Below are a few talking points to include in your discussion:
- Obey speed limits at all times. Make sure your teenager knows that speeding isn’t cool, fun, or acceptable behavior.
- Pay attention to other drivers on the road. Although she may think that she and her friends are the only people who matter, make sure she knows to check her blindspots and monitor nearby traffic.
- Keep the radio at a reasonable level. Ever since the 1920s teenagers have been known to blare music. Make sure your teen knows to keep the volume quiet enough to hear other vehicles.
- Put the phone down. Make sure she is not only aware of the risks texting can cause, but also knows how to combat those risks by actively turning her phone off or keeping it in her pocket while driving.
Do you have any other talking points that you feel parents of teenagers should know? Leave your suggestions in the comment section on this page. You never know when a tip from another parent could save a teenager’s life.