In 2016, over 292,000 teenagers were treated by emergency rooms for auto accident-related injuries, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That’s an estimated $13.6 billion in costs-in one year. How can you help your teen become a better driver? Take a look at these steps that parents can take to help their teens reduce the risks of driving.
Act as a Role Model
Your teen may act like an adult, but he or she is still a child. Like younger children, teens also look to their parents for cues on how to act. This includes driving. When your teen is a passenger in your car, you should do the following:
- Stay alert-never drive when you’re drowsy. If you’re too tired (or sick) to drive, hand the keys over to another responsible adult. This demonstrates the importance of alert driving to your teen.
- Avoid distractions. Leave your phone in your purse or the glove compartment while you’re on the road. Ignore texts, emails, and phone calls. Likewise, avoid other common distractions such as playing music excessively loud, eating, or putting on makeup in a moving vehicle. Obey the speed limit. While it’s tempting to rush through your day, point out speed limit signs to your teen and show them that you always follow the law.
- Reduce road rage. It’s not easy to keep your composure when someone cuts you off, doesn’t give you the right of way, or engages in risky driving behavior. Instead of tailgating the offender, use this as a teachable moment.
- Never drink and drive. A glass of wine over a family dinner or a beer at the ballpark may not seem like a big deal to you, but your teen sees you drinking alcohol and then getting behind the wheel of a car. If you’ve had a few drinks, demonstrate the responsible thing to do and hand your keys over to another adult.
- Obey all the rules of the road. This includes stopping at every stop sign (and not drifting through), slowing down when the traffic light turns yellow, and following other cars at a safe distance.
If you model all of these behaviors for your teen, he or she is more likely to behave this way as well.
If your teen doesn’t own a car, do they need insurance? This is a common question that many parents of new drivers ask. Auto insurance is necessary for anyone in your household who drives your (or the family’s) car, not just the person whose name is on the registration.
Not only does the law require you to purchase a policy for your teen (or add him or her to your existing coverage), but you should want to do it anyway because insuring your teen is a smart move. Teen drivers have an increased accident risk in comparison to adult drivers. In general, teens are the following:
- Less likely to recognize hazards. With experience comes the ability to recognize risky driving situations. Teens often underestimate
weather conditions, and road-related issues can put them in harm’s way as well.
- More likely to speed. While teens tend to overestimate potential hazards, they often also overestimate their own abilities. This can lead to speeding, tailgating, and other similar driving behaviors.
- Less likely to wear seatbelts. According to the CDC, teens rank among the lowest in regular seatbelt use.
Even though accident prevention is ideal, having the right insurance coverage can reduce your family’s financial risks in the event of the unthinkable.
Set Firm Rules
Most states have junior or graduating licensing programs that set specific rules for teen drivers. These include the hours the teen may drive and how many passengers are allowed in the car with them. Along with the state’s rules, consider adding your own family regulations about things like the weather, daylight hours, and infractions (such as getting a ticket).
Does your teen need auto insurance? Contact Family Insurance Centers for more information.