Promote Teen Driver Safety: Discourage Reckless Driving
Many teen drivers put themselves and others at risk every time they get behind the wheel. When parents are out of sight, these beginning drivers engage in reckless driving behavior to impress their friends and test their limits. Teen drivers are more likely to die from car accidents than to die from homicide, suicide, or cancer combined. Every year, over half a million Americans are in car accidents involving teen drivers. Tragically, many of these fatal crashes are due to preventable driving errors.
Teen drivers engage in reckless behavior because they are less able to perceive risk. They have difficulty identifying hazards that could lead to a crash and often overestimate their ability to handle the hazards they do identify. Teen drivers also tend to bring along passengers that distract them from driving and encourage them to participate in reckless speeding, racing, or "driving games."
Unfortunately, millions of parents continue to believe that their child's new license guarantees responsible driving. Every day, mothers and fathers learn that they must plan a funeral for a child who didn't live long enough to graduate from high school, get married, or have a family of his own. To add to the tragedy, many of these parents must also live with the realization that their teen's reckless driving caused injury or death to innocent people involved in the crash.
Teen driving too important to ignore. In fact, teen drivers with involved and supportive parents are half as likely to speed, 70 percent less likely to drive drunk, 30 percent less likely to use their cell phones while on the road, and twice as likely to wear their seat belts. Talking to your teens about reckless driving will help make the road safer for everyone.
I Did This!
You can reduce your teen driver's risk of getting in an accident by preparing her to drive and making sure that she is aware of your expectations. Here's how:
Make Sure that Your Teen Driver has Proper Training
Don't settle for the least amount of driver's education required by the law. Drive as a passenger with your teen to make sure that she is a competent driver. After your teen receives a driver's license, observe her driving regularly and don't hesitate to give guidance. Be sure that your teen avoids these common mistakes:
In addition to real-life experience, your teen can get down-to-earth advice about how driving preparation and accident prevention by visiting Teen Driver Source.
If you do not feel that your teen has the skills necessary to drive alone, insist that she drives with an adult or enrolls in additional driver's training courses until she is competent.
Create a Teen Driving Contract
A driving contract is a document that gives the conditions for the teen's driving privileges. A driving contract is generally signed by a teenager and her parents before the teen is permitted to drive on her own. Let your teen know that that you care about her safety and that the rules you set are meant only to protect her and the other people on the road.
It is best to create a teen driving contract that takes your child's unique abilities, behaviors, and attitudes into consideration. However, you may want to consider sample teen driving contracts before creating your own.
Be sure to address the following teen driving issues:
Discuss the contract with your teen driver and listen to what she has to say. After the contract is signed, be prepared to enforce it with the pre-set consequences.
Monitor Your Teen's Driving
Be aware of your teen's driving habits. If you notice risky driving behaviors in teens she associates with, don't hesitate to bring it up. Do her friends speed down the street and come to a screeching stop when coming to pick her up? It's time for a talk.
If you continue to be concerned about your teen's driving, you may want to participate in a monitoring program. Paid services such as Teen at the Wheel and The Teen Driver provide bumper stickers with a call-in number. If anyone notices your teen driving dangerously, they can call the provided number and leave a message about the incident. After listening to the messages, you can share your concern with your teen and take additional steps to prevent reckless driving.
Your teen may not be happy to hear what you have to say about reckless driving. But, as she grows into an adult, she will become more aware of the risks she avoided by following your guidance.
Your teen will be grateful that you had the courage to speak up. And so will the many drivers and pedestrians who are safer thanks to thoughtful parents that take the time to talk to their teen drivers.
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