Driving for teenagers is a rite of passage. It is an exciting chapter in their lives where independence, responsibility, and social status change. For parents, however, the teenage years can be nerve wracking — and for good reason. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), teenage deaths are caused by car crashes more than any other cause, including suicide and homicide combined. In 2012 alone, 2, 823 teenagers aged 13–19 died in motor vehicle crashes in the U.S. according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety; 79 percent of teenagers killed in crashes were passengers. Although the school year may be just around the corner, summer is still in full swing, therefore giving your teen the chance to hit the road. As the parent of a teenage driver, there are steps you can take to help reduce your teen's driving risk.
While not all states have the same requirements for obtaining a driver's license, there are ways you can help curb the risks associated with teenage driving. For example, the National Safety Council is the leader in promoting the graduated driver's license (GDL), which has proved to reduce a teenager's high crash risk by 20–40 percent. The GDL provides three phases of driving privileges for the teenagers and requires teens to have logged hours behind the wheel before a full license is issued.
Be a Good Role Model
Children have been observing and learning from their parents or guardians since birth. And whether it is because of inexperience behind the wheel or the excitement of finally becoming independent, teenagers are at a higher risk for not using a seat belt. Demonstrating good driving habits when children are passengers helps to reinforce their proficiency and behavior as drivers when they come of age.
One way to reinforce these necessary skills is to provide opportunities for the teen through parent-supervised lessons, such as a once-a-week ride-along for at least 8-12 months. These will provide teenage drivers with real-life situations on the road. If you drive with a teenager in the car, do not text and drive or use your cell phone while operating a vehicle — be an example of the type of safe driving you want your teenager to exercise.
Put it in Writing
A parent-teen agreement, signed by you and your teenage driver, may be one way to show your child you are serious about safety behind the wheel. Setting clear expectations that both you and your teen understand will make for a better entry into the world of driving. Parents should set well-defined restrictions on driving early on with the understanding that the rules may differ as experience grows. These restrictions may include time, distance, and passengers.
If you have a teenager who is old enough to drive, reinforce safety first when getting behind the wheel to minimize any injury that may occur from a collision. The best defense against danger is preparation. Remember, the issue is not whether your teenager is a “good kid” or a “responsible” driver — all teenagers are exposed to the same risk of danger because of their lack of experience behind the wheel. That being said, accidents can happen no matter how careful the driver is.
If you or your loved one was injured in a Wisconsin motor vehicle accident, contact an Appleton car accident attorney today to discuss your case or schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your rights. The Herrling Clark Law Firm, Ltd. has offices located in Appleton, Green Bay, and Oshkosh, and is prepared to help you through this difficult time.