Helping Your Child Stay Safe Behind the Wheel With a Simple Talk
The inherent inexperience of teenage drivers often causes severe car accidents. Teen drivers are almost three times more likely to be in a fatal accident than their adult counterparts per driven mile, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Lack of experience combined with a less-than-cautious attitude behind the wheel can be a recipe for disaster.
As with anything, the more experience teenagers have with driving, the safer they will be. However, in the meantime, your best bet is to remain active in your child’s learning experience and encourage good habits behind the wheel.
“The Easy Talk”—Discussing Driving Safety
While you can’t be with your child every second of the day, there are some things you can do to reduce his chances of being injured in a car accident. The simplest of these actions is simply talking to him about safety. Parenting talks can always be a little awkward, but it’s your responsibility to make sure your child doesn’t drive blind—he needs your guidance in order to see the road ahead. After all, you not only have the experience and information he needs but you also have the authority and trust to make him listen.
Before the next time he gets behind the wheel, take the time to talk to him about driving safety and be sure to touch upon the following safety points:
- Texting. It is important to make sure your child knows the dangers of texting while driving. On average it takes five seconds to respond to a text. In five seconds, a car can travel well over 300 feet. This means that while texting, your child is essentially driving the length of a football field blind. In addition to reminding him to put his phone down, this is the time to remind yourself not to tempt him into poor behavior: try not to text him or call him while he’s driving. If you do, he may be tempted to text you back while he is driving, and you may unknowingly be assisting in distracting a driver. Instead, ask your son to text or call you when he arrives safely at his location.
- Mirroring behavior. Peer pressure and mirroring poor behavior can have disastrous effects on your child’s driving. Talk to him about making good choices and refraining from driving stupidly because of poor role models. That being said, be a good role model yourself. This includes driving the speed limit, not participating in distracted driving, and always buckling up every time you get in the car. Don’t think for one moment that your child doesn’t watch you drive, even before he was of legal driving age.
- Using seat belts. Seat belts are a must for driving safety. Make sure he knows to always wear his seat belt. Explain that buckling up may help prevent him from being injured or killed in a car crash.
- Drinking and driving. Make sure they know where you stand on the subject of underage drinking. Your children need to know that it is not acceptable and you do not approve. If they are caught in possession of alcohol, try to buy alcohol, lie about their age to buy alcohol, or drive under the influence, they can be fined up to $500, have to attend an alcohol awareness class, do several hours of community service and even lose their driver’s license for up to 180 days—and that’s the best case scenario; they could cause a severe or fatal accident.
Spreading the Message
Please share this article with anyone you know who is the parent of a teenager—they may not know what they can do to help prevent a disaster. You can also help other parents understand their children’s risks by sharing your accident stories. Sometimes personal narratives speak louder than campaign slogans and billboards. Share your thoughts in the comment section provided on this page and let your experiences help save the lives of others.