Though legal driving ages vary by state, by the time a teenager is 16 or 17 and passes the written and road tests required by law, they're able to hit the roads. To the average teenager, this is just one step closer to adulthood. Yet, for the parents and adults who know the dangers of driving, having another teen driver on the road is scary, to say the least.
With more than 13 million drivers on the road today being between the ages of 15 and 20, it becomes increasingly important to be aware of the facts and educate the youth on how to be safe on the road. If you're a parent getting ready to hand the keys to your car over to your anxious teenage driver, there are some things you'll want to know first.
Your Teen Driver Will Likely Get in an Accident Within Their First Year of Driving
Did you know that 1 out of 5 16-year-old drivers will get in an accident within their first year of driving? You can't forbid them from driving and keep them trapped in the house forever. Nor can you prevent them from getting into an accident. Essentially, you must educate your teenager on the importance of being safe on the road at all times. From following traffic laws to avoiding distractions like music, cell phones, and friends, it is important to talk regularly with your teens about the things that could cost them their lives.
Parents should also educate their teens on what to do if they are involved in an accident. Make sure that they always have their license, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance in the car. If your teen will be driving their own car, make sure they know how to get proof of insurance for cars because they'll need this if they're involved in an accident. Go over each step from contacting the police and exchanging information with the other driver to taking photos of the car and seeking medical care.
Most Teen Accidents Resulting in Death Happen Between 9 pm and 6 am
Driving in the dark when you're inexperienced can be challenging. Not to mention, it is during these hours that driving conditions change most. In the winter, for instance, roads are often covered in black ice. During holidays or in warmer seasons, this is often when drivers under the influence are out and about. These factors only increase the chances of your teenagers getting seriously injured or even killed on the road.
To reduce the likelihood of your teenager being involved in a deadly accident, it is imperative that you set curfews and stick to them. For their first few years behind the wheel, your teen should not be on the road after 9 pm. The same goes for teen passengers. Allowing them to get in the car with their inexperienced friends can also lead to them getting hurt or killed.
More Than Half of All Teenagers Report Being on the Phone While Driving
Smartphones are quite a distraction. The constant ringing from phone calls, texts, games, emails, social media notifications causes them to take their eyes off the road to reach for their phones. As you know, it only takes a split second for an accident to occur on the road.
Beyond talking to your teens about distracted driving, there are other things parents can do to try and reduce the temptation to grab the smartphone. This can include setting rules and consequences for distracted driving such as taking their driving privileges away if they see their teen using the phone. Another suggestion would be to download an application on your teen's phone that will automatically shut off texting and other notifications when the car reaches a certain speed. The app also sends a message to the sender so they are aware that the teen is preoccupied so that they don't continue to try and reach out.
These statistics may sound scary. Especially if you're a parent with a teenager who will have their license soon. Short of never allowing your children to get behind the wheel, take the necessary steps to educate yourself on the risks and putting precautions in place to reduce the likelihood of something happening to your teen driver.