There are a number of actions you can take to encourage your children to stay safe while driving. One of the commonly underrated options available to parents is discussing rules for driving and making a serious, formal agreement with their children about following these rules. This agreement can be written or spoken, but it helps teenagers resist the urge to take risks while driving. Many parents underestimate how much this kind of agreement can help their children, but teenagers are learning to be adults and tend to respect promises.
Besides talking over safety concerns with your child, you can also implement a few rules and procedures for the family to follow.
Make sure every person wears a seat belt when in the vehicle. This should be a non-negotiable item. Using a seat belt is not only legally required in many places, but it is one of the simplest ways to keep your kids safe. Showing them that even you follow this rule goes a long way to establishing its seriousness. This goes even for backseat passengers. Your kids are far more likely to buckle up if it is already an ingrained habit from long before they start driving.
Have zero tolerance for impaired driving. This goes not only for refusing to drink and drive or drive buzzed. You should be an example of safe driving. Never get behind the wheel when exhausted, and make this a rule for your kids, too. Driving while too tired can be as dangerous as driving drunk.
Additionally, distractions, like texting, social media, and emails, need to be non-existent. Remind your teens: It is always better to get somewhere late than not to get there at all, or have a conversation later rather than send a final message now. You also need to display these choices as their example, meaning never engaging in these dangerous activities.
Limit how many friends can be in the car with your kids. There is a direct correlation between the number of passengers and an increased risk of car accidents. This is especially true if the passengers are male. Most states limit how many passengers learning drivers can have, but keeping it below this legal minimum is still a good idea.
Speeding is another dangerous activity that you need to emphasize is off-limits. That means you should drive without speeding, too. Not only does this save on legal bills and prevent tickets from being added to your kids’ driving records, but it also greatly improves their safety.
Night driving takes added skills and experience that new drivers do not have. Make sure you supervise your children when they drive at night or in inclement weather. Teenagers are far more likely to crash at night than adult drivers.
Make sure your teen can approach you if they feel unsafe or have any questions about driving. Often, kids are scared to ask questions, even when riding with their parents. If your kids are shy about opening up, ask them about their experience driving or riding while others drive. Keep the lines of communication open and keep it clear that your teenager can bring up any questions or concerns without being shamed, ridiculed, or berated.
Keep in mind that teenagers are still learning the basics of driving and are bound to make mistakes. What is most important is that they remain safe and sound every time they get behind the wheel or into a car with someone else. If your child does not feel they can come to you with questions and concerns without fear, they are likely to be far less safe on the road.