New Drivers and the Rules of the Road: Keeping Your Teen Safe This Summer

Teen drivers are statistically more likely than any other age group to be involved in auto accidents. Thanks to their inexperience behind the wheel, they’re also more likely to find themselves in situations that can result in serious trouble. Unfortunately, summer vacation means that teens are also on the road more often. At this time of year, increased travel, road glare, drinking and driving, and more frequent trips on the road also means an increased risk of accidents. As a parent, it’s important to make sure that our teens stay as safe as possible on the road. Below, we’ll explore a few tips that can help ensure new drivers always get home safely.

Tip #1: Install the Right Apps

There are many apps available that can help fight distracted driving, including several that will disable text messages or phone calls when teens are behind the wheel. LifeSaver, for example, goes beyond simply blocking text messages and calls while in a vehicle; the app can also send parents notifications about specific behaviors and track safe driving habits.

Alternately, distracted driving can also be prevented by routinely silencing phones. Even better, encourage teens to develop a habit of keeping their phone in the back seat or trunk while driving; this greatly reduces the temptation of answering the phone while driving.

Tip #2: Teach Teens Basic Car Maintenance

Is your teen getting their oil changed regularly? Do they know how to check their wheels for signs of wear and tear, or how to make sure that their tires are properly inflated? Do they know what to do in the event of engine trouble or mechanical failure? Make sure teens are familiar with basic car maintenance, including how to check oil and fluids, add air to tires, and when to spot conditions that require inspection by a mechanic. This can help prevent accidents due to mechanical problems, and help teens learn how to responsibly maintain a vehicle.

Tip #3: Be a Ride When Needed

Many parents find that the most effective strategy for keeping their teen safe is to simply offer a no-punishment promise if their teen needs a ride for any reason. Unsafe weather conditions, excessive drinking, or simply being too tired to drive can all make conditions on the road more dangerous for teens. Young drivers should be comfortable contacting a parent or family member if they are unsure about driving themselves; by being assured that a parent will be there to pick them up when necessary, teens are far less likely to drive in risky conditions.

Tip #4: Monitor Teen’s Driving Behaviors

While there are apps that can let parents know where their teen is—for example, TrueMotion Family Safe Driving—it’s also important to communicate with teens regularly about their driving behaviors.

For example, how many passengers are your teen allowed to take in their car? What times of day to they frequently drive? While the state may have laws for early licensed teens, parents are far more likely to know a teen’s driving habits. Make sure to discuss the rules, responsibilities, and expectations for teens using a vehicle. Teens should be open to discussing challenges they have behind the wheel, and understand the dangers of driving without a firm respect for the risks of the road.

Tip #5: Keep Driving With Your Child

Once your teen has their license, it’s easy to forego time in the car with them. Teens may be eager for the independence of driving without supervision, and parents may be hesitant to infringe on their teen’s freedom accordingly. Remember, however, that safe driving is a lifelong pursuit: parents should frequently check in on a young driver’s ability behind the wheel.

Ask your teen to drive you on an errand, and keep an eye on their behavior behind the wheel. It’s much easier to correct driving practices early on, rather than undo years of bad road habits.

Tip #6: Make Sure the Vehicle is Safe

In the event a teen is involved in an accident, the make, model, and condition of the vehicle can make an enormous difference in the driver’s risk of injury. Make sure that the car runs well, is periodically inspected by a mechanic, and free of any latent defects. Consider checking online whether the make, model, and year of the vehicle has been subject to any manufacturer recalls.

Most importantly, try to provide teen drivers a vehicle with a solid safety record. Older vehicles frequently lack many of the lifesaving design features of newer models, and can be an unnecessary risk for new drivers at a higher-than-normal risk of auto accidents.

Tip #7: Insist on Seatbelts

Seatbelts are more comfortable than they used to be, but many teens still find them restrictive or, worse, an afterthought. Young drivers should be in the habit of fastening their seatbelt every time they get behind the wheel. Even better, encourage the habit of securing seatbelts before starting the ignition. With a little repetition, seatbelt use quickly becomes a lifelong reflex.

Seatbelts might not be able to prevent accidents, but they substantially reduce the risk of serious injury or death. Remind young drivers regularly that seatbelt use isn’t optional. If you’re still looking for a vehicle for your teen, consider one that offers a warning system that the seatbelt isn’t fastened, which can encourage seatbelt use when you’re not around.

Tip #8: Demonstrate Safe Driving Habits

Whether on a road trip, running errands, or en route to a family dinner, teens will still frequently occupy the passenger seat: remember that your driving practices will likely be emulated by your teen. Make sure to exercise the proper safe driving techniques while behind the wheel. Discuss why you make certain decisions: waiting to make a turn, moving around a driver who is behaving unsafely, or other key moments behind the wheel can all serve as useful learning opportunities. Parents with poor driving skills are likely passing those same habits on to younger drivers: it’s never too late to reexamine our own habits behind the wheel, and doing so can help ensure teens use the road safely, politely, and at significantly less risk of a serious accident.

If your teen driver has been in an accident, whether due to a mistake they made behind the wheel or through no fault of their own, contact us today for a free consultation at (727) 451-6900 or online.

Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765
(727) 451-6900

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