We can all remember the thrill and excitement we felt when we finally got our license. A license means freedom, but it also means responsibility.
No parent wants to even imagine their teen getting into an accident, but it can happen. In 2015 alone, there were 245,000 people injured in car accidents. While there's no foolproof way to prevent an accident, you can take steps to help your teen avoid a collision.
1. Establish Firm Rules for Driving
Before your teen heads out on the open road, make sure that you've established firm ground rules for driving.
Parents should establish their own rules (you know what is best for your child), but there are a few things that you might want to consider, like:
Limiting night driving
Restricting where and when the teen can drive
A large percentage of fatal accidents happen at night. It's harder to see at night, which can make safe driving even more challenging for new drivers. Experts recommend not allowing your teen to drive unsupervised after 10pm, or earlier.
Keep in mind that some states also have laws that limit when teens can drive. Typically, drivers under a certain age are not allowed to drive between the hours of 10pm and 5am There may be exceptions, such as driving to work or with a licensed adult, but generally, teens will want to stay off the road during these hours.
2. Limit the Number of Passengers in Your Teen's Car
Teens naturally want to take their friends for rides or out around town, but passengers also increase the risk of an accident, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The IIHS says one passenger increases the risk by 48%, while two increases it by 258%.
The National Safety Council suggests prohibiting teens under the age of 18 from bringing any passengers into the vehicle during the first year of driving.
Passengers can quickly become a distraction, especially for new drivers.
3. Prohibit Cell Phone Use While Driving
No driver should use a cell phone while driving, but this rule is especially important for teens. According to the National Safety Council, cell phone use is the main cause of 23% of car accidents each year.
Teens are more likely to use their phones while driving, so it's important to set firm rules against cell phone use while driving.
4. Make Seat Belts Mandatory
Wearing a seatbelt may seem like an obvious rule, but it's one that many new – and seasoned – drivers ignore. Wearing a seat belt could save your teen's life, or in the very least, reduce the severity of injuries if an accident occurs.
Everyone in the vehicle should be buckled up – it's the law.
5. Teach Good Driving Habits
Instilling good driving habits in your teen can go a long way in preventing an accident. Here are a few tips:
Teach your teen that driving in the right-hand lane is the safest place to be. Accidents are more likely to happen when driving on the highway at a higher speed and switching lanes. Let your teen know that it's acceptable to drive in the right lane for the majority of the ride.
Many teen drivers feel overwhelmed and intimidated when driving on busy roads. Let your teen know that it's okay to pull over – when it's safe to do so – if the driving situation becomes stressful.
Use these five tips to help your teen drive more safely on the road and avoid a potential accident. Instilling good driving habits – which means putting down the cell phone – can mean the difference between a fun ride out on the town and a fatal car wreck.