10 Tips To Reduce Teen Collisions
The cause of many teenage crashes is not an issue of insufficient
skills or knowledge. It's often an issue of attitude and maturity. You, the
parent, and your influence can help shape a responsible attitude about
Remember, you are a role model. New
drivers learn a lot by example, so practice safe driving. Teens
with poor driving records often reflect the behavior of parents
with poor driving records. That means Mom and/or Dad need to
obey speed limits and demonstrate safe driving habits.
Supervise as much practice driving as possible.
Parents should take an active role in their teenagers driving
practice. Make a firm schedule to supervise your future driver
and stick to it. Let your teen drive in a wide variety of
driving conditions to build experience and confidence. Give your
teenager a chance to get the feel of inclement weather, heavy
traffic, urban and rural situations and night driving. Plan on
supervising for at least six months in order to get a teen
acclimated to the road before he or she takes a driving test to
get a license.
Be firm about safety belt use. If you
wear your safety belt every time you drive, your son or daughter
can adopt this behavior more easily. Require that your teenagers
wear safety belts at all time -- no exceptions.
Discuss realistic consequences of drug and alcohol
use. Teenagers realize that driving under the
influence of alcohol or drugs is clearly dangerous, but
face-to-face discussion with Mom and/or Dad is a strong
reinforcement. Remind them that it is illegal for teens to
drink alcohol -- and illegal to anyone to use drugs. Discuss how
marijuana, other drugs and alcohol can impair their senses. Talk
about the chemical effects on their perceptions and reaction
time after they've consumed even one drink or smoked one joint.
Let them hear it from you that alcohol, marijuana, or other drug
use when driving is totally unacceptable. For more help getting
the point across with your teens, visit
Restrict passengers. Teen drivers often
transport their friends. It's a practice that has to be limited
and supervised carefully. Having more passengers in a car
increased the chance of greater risk-taking, primarily because
of greater peer pressure. It also leads to greater distractions.
Limit night driving. Many teen car crashes
take place between 9 p.m. and 12 midnight. Beginning drivers
should be restricted to driving during the day initially, and
gradually introduced to night driving as they gain experience.
Keep it slow and safe for starters.
Remember that teens need to stay away from fast-moving, high
volumes of traffic until they feel comfortable in such
situations, and until parents feel they have had adequate
experience. Gradually introduce more difficult driving
situations such as highway driving, merge ramps and major urban
Train for poor weather conditions. Don't
expect your teenager to be comfortable driving alone in poor
weather conditions. They'll feel more comfortable if you've been
on the road with them coaching them through rainstorms, snow,
wind, sleet, and ice. Limit your teen's driving during periods
of bad weather until the teen demonstrates a high level of
competence and confidence.
Restrict cell phones to emergency only. Don't
let bad habits begin. Provide your young teen with a cell phone
for the car for emergency situations only. The phone can be
programmed to access limited locations: 911 and family members'
home and work numbers. It if is necessary to use a cell phone,
instruct your teenager to pull safely over to the side of the
road, on a side street, or in a parking lot to make an emergency
Choose safe vehicles for your teenagers.
Proper attention to the vehicle a teen drives is as important as
his or her actual driving.
- Avoid small cars, trucks, and sport utility
vehicles. Often small cars offer poor protection in
a crash, and trucks and sport utility vehicles are more
prone to rolling over. Parents should exercise caution when
considering vehicles such as these.
- Look for automobiles with high safety ratings
(air bags, crumple zones, etc.). Look at federal
statistics and consumer-report literature to help evaluate
the safety rating of a vehicle. The Insurance Institute for
Highway Safety (IIHS) offers valuable vehicle and safety
advisories. Visit their Web Site at
Some Parting Thoughts For Parents
- Speeding is the top reason that teens lose control of
- Teens are more likely to crash at night; their risk of a
fatal crash at night is three times as high as in the day.
- The risk of a fatal crash among teenagers increases with
every additional passenger.
- Many states have adopted graduated licensing programs
that limit new drivers' privileges. Restricting late-night
driving and putting limits on the number of passengers
allowed are common aspects of these policies. In some
states, the teenager has a longer period of supervised
driving before being permitted a license to drive alone.
Learn more about graduated licensing programs from these Web
If your state doesn't have a graduated license program or
has only weak requirements, you may want to take steps to
promote a good graduated licensing system.
- Many insurance companies offer teen driving programs and
safety tips. Search the Internet to find them.