|Topics: Ford Motor Company
July 19, 2010
Talking to your teenager about safe driving is extremely important. Although during the teen years, it seems hard to get through to your kids, experts say parents should try talking to them often to encourage positive opinions, ideas and decisions. Research shows parents who take time to talk to their kids, help teach responsible driving habits and encourage safer driving actually do have safer teen drivers. According to Ford Driving Skills for Life, an organization created by Ford Motor Company that's aimed at helping teens who have just received or are about to receive a driver's license, nearly 7,000 15-20-year-old teens die in car crashes every year. During a typical prom weekend, nearly 300 teens dies in alcohol related accidents, and two out of every three teens who die in car crashes are passengers in a vehicle that's driven by another teen. It's important that we try to reduce these numbers and talk to our children about safe driving habits. There are many issues that need addressed, follow these tips provided by Ford for talking to your teen about driving.
• Be a good coach. Make sure your teen driver spends a lot of time in the car with you before they drive on their own. Make sure you are a successful and motivating teacher. Be patient with them, show them the ropes of driving and make them have a good time. Many teens are very stressed and nervous when they first get behind the wheel. Don't get discouraged or frustrated because if you do, they will too. Don't yell, speak in a clear voice and make sure they understand what you're explaining. Be patient and eventually they will become more comfortable. By approaching the situation calmly, they will pay more attention to you and it will be a great bonding experience, plus what you're saying will actually sink in. Don't forget to emphasize the importance of practice. More practice always equals better driving skills.
• Tell your teenager to slow down. Speeding is a major factor in car accidents that involve teens. Make sure to let them know that they should adjust their speed according to road conditions, even if it means going under the speed limit. When it's raining or dark out, they should be going slower. Also let them know when it's raining or dark, since visibility is decreased, they should leave more space between their car and others on the road. Turn the headlights on in bad weather including rain or snow and stay in the right lane. When you are driving, make sure to set a good example for your teen. Don't go over the speed limit, because if you do, your teen will probably speed too. Don't forget to remind your teen that while speeding is obviously dangerous, it's also expensive. If you get a ticket, depending how fast you're going it can be hundreds of dollars that they will have to pay themselves. Also tell them their car insurance will go up, and they will also have to pay for it if they want to continue to drive.
• Put restrictions on the amount of passengers allowed and enforce. The more passengers that are in the car with your teen driving, the more distractions he or she has. This puts your teen more at risk for having an accident. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, teen drivers are four times more likely to be involved in a distraction-related crash than any other age group. Many states have restrictions on the number of passengers allowed in a car with a teen driver. Even if your state doesn't have a number restriction, you should and make sure to check frequently, ask a lot of questions as to who your teen is driving and administer punishments for broken rules.
• Talk to your teen about cell phones and driving. No new drivers should be on their cell phones while driving. Cell phones are a huge distraction, and as stated above, teens are four times more likely to be involved in a distraction-related crash than any other age group. Many cities have banned cell phone use for drivers who are under 18-years-old. No one should ever be texting while driving, let alone a new driver. Talk to your teen about how dangerous texting and driving is and ask them to keep their cell phones put away until they reach their destination. Explain to them that a phone call or text can wait, it's not worth losing your life or endangering other people's lives for.
• Warn your teen about drinking and driving. You may think it's obvious that you shouldn't drink and drive. However, it's still important to stress the dangers of drinking and driving to your teenager. Educating your teen about the dangers of drinking and driving and talking to them about the consequences will help put it in perspective for them. Don't forget to tell them about the legal measures that are taken if you are arrested for drinking and driving, especially if you are under the legal drinking age. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2004, 24% of 15-20 year-old drivers killed in a motor vehicle crash had a blood alcohol count of .08 g/dl or higher. In 2002, over 6,000 teens died from underage drinking-related causes (car accidents, homicides, suicides and other unintentional injuries). Over 2,200 of those were alcohol-related car accident fatalities. Don't let your teen become one of these horrible statistics, talk to them about drinking and driving.
Following these tips can make a huge difference in the life and safety of your new teen driver. Your child needs you, whether they act like it or not. Show them you care and you need them too by never hesitating to talk to them about potential dangers that they must face as they make their way into adulthood. Make sure your teen knows you are always available to talk about anything, and don't put off talking to them about the safe driving habits addressed above.