The nation is on the heels of its 3rd annual Teen Driver Safety Week which was enacted by Congress to increase awareness and precaution for new teen drivers and their families nationwide. Unfortunately, the number of teen fatalities arising from car accidents is staggering: the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates a teen driving tragedy occurs every two and a half hours. It’s more important than ever to educate teens and families about the dangers of unsafe driving.
Parents and teens can work together to help reduce the risk of car accidents. Unfortunately, car accidents are the leading cause of death for teens ages 16 to 19. In an effort to lower these odds, many safety officials have come together to help put an end to teenage car accidents nationwide. One of these groups, Tire Rack Street Survival, is a non-profit organization that aims to teach teen drivers about driving safety above and beyond DMV-required education.
“We’re working to make the roads safer for everyone,” said Bill Wade, national program manager. “Although it’s a year-round problem, National Teen Driver Safety Week is a great opportunity for us to raise awareness and educate parents and teens on the importance of learning proper car control since few realize that driving is one of the most dangerous things they can do.”
In addition to national efforts to raise teen driver safety awareness, parents can start the campaign right at home by considering the following safety tips.
Teen driver safety tips: kickoff safe driving today!
National Teen Driver Safety Week kicks off October 16, but teens and parents can start the road to better driving today. Consider the following tips as your teen eagerly takes the wheel. Remember, education, practice, and rules can make for the best combination in preventing a teen car accident.
Establish a teen driving contract
Before your teen gets behind the wheel, make sure an agreement is in place. Download our free teen driving contract and read the contract out loud. Consider each and every rule and discuss consequences for not following the agreement. If you have specific rules for your teen, make sure to write them into the agreement as well so there is no confusion later. Teens have a clever way of making explaining themselves after breaking the rules, but an agreement solidifies all the details before teens have a chance to break the rules.
Review the car’s user manual
Even before your teen eagerly takes the wheel, make sure s/he understands the vehicle inside and out. Students enrolled in driver’s education courses will have some knowledge of operational tools such as speed dials, shifters, blinkers, emergency brakes, and headlights, but it’s a good idea to discuss these features again. Also, consider discussing the maintenance of the vehicle and start keeping track of required maintenance. Don’t forget to show your teen how to change a flat tire.
No distracted driving is a zero-tolerance policy
Make sure your teen understands that under no circumstance will distracted driving be allowed. This includes limiting passengers while driving. California law states that teen drivers may only drive with passengers once they reach age 18:
“Persons under age 18 must be accompanied by a parent/guardian or other person specified by law when transporting passengers under 20 years of age, at any time for the first twelve months or driving between the hours of 11:00 PM and 5:00 AM for the first twelve months.”
Have a backup plan
Teens will sometimes make mistakes. Be sure you discuss a backup plan with your teen driver if s/he gets into a difficult or dangerous situation. Have an open-door policy which ultimately puts the driver’s safety first.
If your teen gets into an accident
If an accident does happen, make sure your teen understands what s/he needs to do. Download our free car accident checklist and store it in the vehicle’s glove box. Sometimes, even well-prepared teens can get into an accident. If you happen to find your self or your teen into an accident, call The Patterson Cozzo Law Firm at (770) 422-8840.