The first time your teenager drives away in a car is a day every mother worries about. The teenage brain can only absorb a limited number of safe driving tips. I wanted to somehow pass along the years and years of driving experience I knew they would need to acquire on their own. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports automobile accidents are the No. 1 killer of teens in America, with 5,000 deaths each year. I could sleep easier at night knowing that I’ve done enough to educate and prepare them for the dangers of the road. Don’t be a distracted driving statistic.
My 8 Safe Driving Tips:
- Phones: Distracted driving kills people everyday. Teach them never to text or talk on the phone while driving, and set that example. Encourage them to speak up if they are in a car with a distracted driver. Don’t forget you want them to have those phones, and make sure they know who to call when they are involved in an accident or have a flat tire. Join me and give up cell phone use for a week while driving. Handheld and hands free. You can do it. So can I. Take the NCS pledge with me.
- Speeding: The words on the sign are “Speed Limit”, and teenage drivers quickly discover their car is not so limited. Remind them of the current cost of speeding tickets. They may not realize the time involved for traffic school or court appearances, and moms may not realize how high court costs have risen.
- Alcohol: Teenagers are more likely to die in an alcohol related crash than the rest of the population, despite being under the legal age. Teaching teenagers the effects intoxication has on driving ability is a well established effort, and I teach my boys they cannot drive drunk or be in a car with a drunk driver.
- Seat Belts: Teenage drivers are less likely to use seat belts than adults, and the majority who die in crashes are unrestrained. Convincing your child to use his or her belt can only be done by example. Don’t let the car move until they buckle up. Today’s cars are good at reminding drivers; make sure your teenager’s car beeps at them incessantly.
- Respect Signs: It seems simple, but this has to be done by example, too. Signs are there to protect us, and they only work when everyone pays attention to them. Stop at stop signs, yield when you should yield. There are no perfect drivers, but your kids should develop a healthy respect for our friend: the yellow light.
- Tired Driving: When they take off on that cross-country trip, you had the car checked bumper to bumper. While it may be ready to drive through the night, a teenage driver may not. Find a rest stop or pull the car over, don’t drive sleepy. Planning ahead where to rest is always the best idea.
- Tires: Make sure they have a tire pressure gauge in the car and know how to use it. Make sure they know the pressure their tires need, and where to find it when they forget.
- Maintenance: They don’t have to be a mechanic to know how to check fluids, brake lights and windshield wipers. Go over these basic necessities and show them how to periodically check oil and coolant levels. It will lessen the chance of an inopportune breakdown.