Driving is a privilege for drivers of all ages, including teens. Driving brings both opportunity and risk to those behind the wheel.
“As a parent, I give our children positive affirmation about their driving abilities, while helping them understand the numerous risks,” said Kevin Dowling, assistant vice president for direct claims at Grinnell Mutual. “To be successful at whatever you do, there is often an element of avoiding the distractions. As parents, we have to help them identify those distractions and help guide them, especially when it comes to driving.”
During Teen Driver Safety Week, Grinnell Mutual recommends that parents set ground rules for their teen drivers. Here are “5 to Drive” rules that you and your teen drivers can discuss together before your teen gets in the driver’s seat.
1. Avoid drinking and driving.
Even though drinking before the age of 21 is illegal, teen alcohol use is a factor in fatal accidents. In 2012, 23 percent of teen drivers involved in fatal motor vehicle crashes were drinking.
Parents, you can set a good example by not driving after drinking.
2. Buckle up every trip, every time.
Teens have the lowest rate of seat belt use, according to research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2013, only 55% of high school students reported they always wear seat belts when riding with someone else. Model good driving for your teens. If you wear your seat belt every time, your teen is more likely to follow suit.
3. One text or call could wreck it all.
Nearly four out of five teens own a cell phone and over one-third own a smartphone, according to research from the Pew Research Internet Project. Three-quarters of teens text and the typical teen texts 60 times a day.
Immaturity and lack of driving experience are the two main factors leading to the high crash rate among teens, according to the Insurance Information Institute. How many teen drivers are aware that every time a vehicle’s speed doubles, the stopping distance quadruples?
5. One passenger at a time.
The presence of teen passengers increases the crash risk of unsupervised teen drivers, the CDC reports. Two or more peer passengers more than triples the risk of a fatal crash with a teen at the wheel, according to reports from The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute.
One way to help teen drivers improve is by riding with them. It not only helps them gain experience for a variety of driving situations, it may help fulfill the requirement of supervised driving time as part of a graduated driver’s license (GDL). (View your state’s license requirements.)
“You get the opportunity when you’re riding with them to help them understand that they need to pay closer attention to what they’re doing behind the wheel,” said Dowling.