We’ve all been in a room full of teenagers — between the animated chatter, loud music, and texting back and forth, they’re a force to be reckoned with. Cram all of that energy into the cramped confines of a car and it can get dangerous fast. Statistics from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute show that when teen drivers have two or more passengers, it more than triples the risk of a fatal crash. Once your teen gets his or her license, the chances are high they’ll be chauffeuring their friends.
Know the dangers that precede disaster
Texting often gets the brunt of the blame for car accidents involving teens. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving causes 12 percent of fatal crashes among teens, and 21 percent of those crashes involve cell phones. But there’s a long list of other distractions that can turn a trip to the mall into a nightmare for a group of teens.
Too many passengers. Students Against Distracted Driving says that a teen driver interacting with other passengers is theleading cause of distracted driving crashes. Teens love to travel in packs and are known to overcrowd vehicles, often leaving passengers without seatbelts. Once the music gets pumping and friends start getting rowdy, it’s almost impossible for the driver to keep their eyes on the road. Put a passenger limit on your teen’s vehicle and gently remind them to keep the volume to a dull roar.
Have a zero-tolerance policy on drugs and alcohol. You can’t be with your child 24/7, but it’s really important to have a serious discussion about substance abuse and getting behind the wheel. Even if your teen doesn’t partake, the chances are good he or she will be faced with the temptation to get into the car of someone who does. Consider discussing and implementing a kid-parent contract that will help keep your teen on the right path.
Establish a car curfew. Teens simply aren’t all that experienced behind the wheel. Add the limited visibility of nighttime driving and possible drowsiness — driving teammates home from a late night practice, for example — and you’ve got a potentially lethal mix. Make sure your teen knows he or she needs to have the car back in the garage no later than 9 p.m., and offer the group a ride if you know they’ll be out later. Many states have curfews for teen drivers set by law, which means you can make the state the bad guy in that conversation.
For more information
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