Having a child that recently got their driver’s license or permit can be a scary time in a parents’ life. If you’re like thousands of others, there are endless thoughts going through your mind, like: It seems like just yesterday they were learning to walk – how can they be driving a car already? Will they remember everything they learned in driver’s education? And most importantly – What can I do to keep my teen driver safe? The following tips will help you establish some basic guidelines of safety – and as a bonus they can also help save you money when adding your teen to your auto insurance policy…
Restrict nighttime driving – The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that just over 40% of fatal accidents involving teenage drivers occur between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m., when the risk of drunk driving is highest. All cities have a curfew, but if you’d like your teen home sooner, consider implementing a “household” curfew.
Limit passengers – With more passengers comes more distractions. A study in The Journal of American Medical Association found that the death rate for drivers nearly doubled when another person was in the car – and it escalated even higher when there was more than one passenger. Set limits on how many people can be in the vehicle while your son or daughter is driving.
Create a zero tolerance policy – Depending on which state you live in, teenage drivers can lose their driving privileges after a number of accidents or infractions. Some more serious infractions, like drinking and driving, may guarantee they don’t get a license for a year or more. Regardless of your state’s policy, consider creating one of your own to encourage your child to drive safely and avoid alcohol.
Limit distractions – More and more states are implementing a “no texting” law for teenage drivers. But, that’s not the only thing that can be a distraction. For example, if your teenage driver is guilty of cranking the stereo to the highest volume, remove it from the car. Or, perhaps they seem distracted by laughter and friends in the car? Limit this as well.
Make seat belts a “must” – Insist that the driver and all passengers in the car wear a seat belt at all times, even if they’re making a short trip just a few blocks away. Although many states don’t require seatbelts in the back seat if passengers are above a certain age, insisting on seatbelts for all passengers can help save the lives of your children and their friends.
Make it a “no cell” area – State laws are changing quickly to ban texting and talking while driving, which can be one of the biggest distractions – and a leading cause of accidents in the last few years. Learn your state or county laws and consider making the car a “no cell” zone – it will be much safer and can save your teen money in fines.
Set area limits – Sometimes, it’s best to set a limit on how far your child can drive. Sit down and talk with them about where they can drive in town; if they want to go out of town, make sure they let you know exactly where they’re going, and ask your permission before doing so.
Limit driving during “high risk” times – Friday and Saturday evenings are among the most dangerous times for anyone to drive because there are many more intoxicated drivers on the road. Consider limiting your child’s driving privileges during this time.
Prohibit driving under the influence – As a parent, this is one thing you hope you’ll never have to deal with. But, it’s an important restriction – if not the most important to enforce. Encourage your son or daughter to call you for a ride if they’ve ever had too much to drink or don’t feel like they’re fit to drive.
Have frequent “training sessions” – One of the best things you can do for your teen driver is make sure they’re properly prepared for a variety of driving situations. Plan practice drives in conditions like rain, snow, and heavy traffic – so they’ll know just how to deal with it if the situation arises. And, you’ll be right there beside them so they can ask questions and learn along the way.
Lead by example – Your children look up to you, and often learn by example by mimicking your actions. Every time you’re out on the road, make sure to drive at the speed limit, always wear your seat belt, and don’t talk on your cell phone.
When training, start slow – As your teen begins driving, limit their use of the car, as driving should be learned gradually and deliberately. If you’re letting them use the family vehicle, set certain time restrictions for when they can use it, and how often. Most importantly, they shouldn’t have unlimited access to the car until they’re much more experienced.
Additional Safety Options
In today’s market, there are many technologies you can use to keep a close eye on your child’s driving habits. Before implementing them, be sure to let your child know you’re using the technology as an educational and coaching tool, not as a form of punishment. Why? Because with them comes the risk of your child feeling as if you don’t trust them. Here’s a look at some of the technologies available that can help you keep an eye on your teen’s driving habits and help prevent accidents along the way:
GPS tracking – Several manufacturers now offer a tracking option on their GPS. The system allows you to track where your teen’s car goes, as well as the speed they’re driving – if they exceed a certain limit, you’ll get a notification.
Anticipatory braking – This technology is currently available from just a few car manufacturers like Lexus and BMW, although GM is currently working on a model as well. The technology is a step above anti-lock breaks, as it uses radar to anticipate a collision and better prepare the car to stop.
Vehicle assistance services – Many new cars on the market have assistance services (like OnStar or BMW’s Assist) that can help in the unfortunate event that an accident would occur. The service’s GPS can help emergency officials locate the accident, but future models promise even more in-depth information like the nature of the accident and which airbags deployed.
Enhanced cruise control – Certain car manufacturers offer the option of enhanced cruise control, which allows the driver to set a specific following distance from the car in front of them. When it’s enabled, your car will automatically maintain that distance, which can help prevent collisions.
About the Author: Pam King writes on frugality, safety and insurance literacy for Direct General, a low cost and customized car insurance rate provider. When not saving money on her insurance, Pam enjoys knitting, NASCAR, family and watching roller derby!
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KidsGoals.com thanks Pam for her article contribution