Distracted Driving and Inexperience: For a teenager, nothing could be more exciting than getting a driver’s license. The thrill of driving to school, the mall, and to their friends’ home are all experiences that will last a lifetime. But many parents worry as their teens hit the open road since the risk of car accidents is undeniable when less-experienced drivers take the wheel. And now in a new study from AAA, parents’ suspicions are unfortunately true: teens are more prone to car accidents within the first month of driving alone.
The study revealed that teen drivers are 50 percent more likely to sustain a car accident within the first month of licensure. After just two years of driving, though, a teen’s risk of car accident is reduced by 50 percent, which drives the point home: teens need practice, practice, practice.
After observation cameras were placed in the teen’s vehicles, researchers discovered that accidents were caused by driving too fast, distraction, or the failure to yield to other cars. Teens were much more prone to accidents when taking left-hand turns, even if they were protected with stop lights, indicating that teens need more training when making certain maneuvers.
“We know that young drivers’ crash rates decrease quickly as they gain experience,” AAA Foundation president and CEO Peter Kissinger said in a statement. “What our new study tells us is that there are a few specific abilities that we could do a better job of helping teens develop before they begin driving independently.”
Without much surprise, the cameras also revealed that teens drove much differently than with parents. Teens generally drove familiar roads on their best behavior while supervised, but as they took the open road alone, the cameras revealed all sorts of unacceptable driving habits: texting, running red lights, and socializing with friends instead of focusing on the road.
Parents: Equip your teen with the right driver’s etiquette
Parents can help teens improve their driving habits even if when they are not around by utilizing the following tools and advice.
Safety is first
Your teen needs to know that driving is a privilege and not a right. In other words, driving a vehicle comes with great responsibility. Make sure your teen knows there are consequences to unsafe driving habits, from loss of privileges to car accidents and even death.
Familiarize your teen with many roads
It’s tempting to use your neighborhood as the driver’s course, but consider opening up the range of travel so your teen can experience different kinds of driving situations. A driving school will also introduce your teen to multiple driving situations, however, your teen will clock the most hours with you. Open up the road of travel reasonably, and let your teen experience as much as possible with you as the passenger. For more challenging road travel, offer advice when needed, and try it again if you feel your teen can use the practice.
Anti-texting and calling while driving apps
There are many parental tools to stop your teen from texting and driving. Consider installing an “anti-texting” phone app which would prohibit any incoming texts while driving. Also, consider installing an app that would prevent incoming cell phone calls from receiving to your teen’s phone. A good option may be SafeCell, a popular cell phone restrictor for parental use.