Losing a teen in a car accident is a grievous tragedy that no parent should have to endure. Sadly, according to Teen Driver Source, nearly 11,000 teens die in traffic crashes each year, and 326,000 are seriously injured.
As a parent, there are several steps you can take to reduce your teen’s risk of being involved in a collision. This article will provide an overview of five of those strategies.
Let’s examine five ways you can reduce your teenager’s risk of being involved in a serious collision:
- Lead by Example
A study cited by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that teens have the lowest rate of seatbelt use among all age groups. It is important that your teen gets into the habit of buckling up before turning on the engine. One way to encourage seatbelt use is to lead by example. Always buckle up and ask your passengers to do the same before you start the engine.
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You should also obey all traffic laws. If you make illegal maneuvers, text while driving or break the speed limit, your teenager may think that it’s ok to do so. According to the CDC, 26 percent of male drivers between the ages 15 and 20 who were involved in deadly accidents in 2014 were speeding.
- Teach Your Teen How to Avoid the Most Common Causes of Accidents
Staying informed about the main causes of teenage car accidents can help you set up a preventive plan. According to Teen Driver Source, approximately half of all teen crashes involve one of these three critical errors:
- Failure to detect and respond to hazards due to an inability to scan the road properly;
- Driving too fast for the conditions; or
- Distracted or texting while driving.
According to the official website of South Carolina’s Alive at 25 initiative, the following factors are the most common culprits behind teen accidents:
- Not understanding the consequences of risky behavior;
- Inexperience with the complexities of driving;
- Transporting peer passengers;
- Driving as a social activity;
- Poor road conditions or driving at night;
- Distracted driving; and
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Install a Distracted Driving Prevention App on Your Teen’s Phone
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According to Teen Driver Source, distracted driving contributes to more than half of all accidents that involve drivers between the ages 16 and 19. Several apps are available to prevent cellphone use behind the wheel and to allow you to monitor your teen’s behavior on the road. I would recommend discussing the fact that you are installing the app with your teen, and after the inevitable eye roll, give them boundaries for safe driving and the consequences for pushing these boundaries before you put them behind the wheel. Five of the most popular parent apps include:
- AT&T DriveMode;
- Drive Alive Lite;
- Autobrain; and
- Hum by Verizon.
- Limit Your Teen Carrying Passengers
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Okay, this one may be the hardest one to enforce, because let’s face it, most parents look forward to not being the teen taxi when their kids start driving. However, according to Teen Driver Source, carrying two or more peer passengers more than triples the likelihood of a teen being involved in a fatal crash. Male teenagers are six times more likely to execute an illegal maneuver when carrying a peer passenger, and they are twice as likely to drive aggressively before crashing.
- Limit your teen driving at night
In general, teen activities at night are a bad idea. No secret there. As a father of three girls, one of whom is about to start driving, I will severely restrict driving at night to essential trips as long as possible until we establish trust. According to Geico, the risk of a fatal crash is three times greater at night. Do not let your teen drive after sunset until you are confident in his or her ability to drive responsibly.