Teen driver car crashes are the leading cause of permanent injury and death in teenagers. In 2013, 2,163 teens in the United States ages 16-19 were killed and 243,243 were treated in emergency rooms for injuries suffered in motor vehicle crashes (Source: CDC).
Fortunately, teen driver crashes are preventable. This article is for parents with children that are about to become teen drivers or parents with teen drivers.
In this article, you’re going to learn How to talk to your teen driver. You’re also going to learn what you can do to prepare them and reduce the risk of a serious accident.
Before we go into solving the problem, it’s important to understand the problem first.
The High-Risk Teen Driver
The risk of car crashes is higher among 16-19 year-olds than any other age group. Teen drivers are 16-19 times more likely than drivers aged 20 and above to be in a fatal car crash. The teen drivers that are especially high risk are:
- Males: Teenage males are almost twice as likely to get in a fatal car accident than their female counterparts.
- Driving with Teen Passengers: You’d think mobile distractions would lead to the most accidents, but they’re not. The presence of teen passengers increases so much that it increases by every extra passenger (Source: Journal of American Medical Association).
- Newly Teen Drivers: The first year of driving is the most dangerous year of a young person’s life.
Now that you know who is most at risk, let’s shift our focus to learning about the biggest causes of teen crashes.
HOW TO TALK TO YOUR TEEN DRIVER
It’s not a question of “if” your teen driver will be involved in an accident, rather “when.” It’s critical to talk to your children and have a conversation with them. We recommend that you start by simply letting them know that you’re always there for them. Let them know that “if” they are involved in an accident that it’s ok and you’ll listen to them.
The conversation really starts before they even get into a vehicle. Instill the right mindset by informing them to be cautious and vigilant.
Here are 5 tips and conversations to have with your teen driver:
- Speak Up: Let them know that it’s ok to speak up if they are a passenger and the driver is driving in a reckless manner.
- Drinking and Driving: Let them know that it is 100% forbidden to get in a car with anyone who has been drinking.
- Awareness: Reinforce the mindset of constant vigilance. Many accidents can be avoided simply by paying attention.
- Preparation: Make sure they have a first aid kit, always have a way to contact you, and always carry an ID or another way to identify them and be able to contact you in case of emergency.
- After a Crash: Walk them through what to do after a crash. Let them know that they should take a deep breath and stay calm. After they check for injuries and assess the level of the accident, tell them to call the police first, then to call you.
Those are 5 broad tips and conversations parents can have with their teen drivers. To learn more, check out the Teenage Driver Checklist for Parents.
Along with the Checklist, we will also include the “Parent-Teen Driving Agreement”. This agreement is a great way to reinforce the message of safe driving. It also is a documented agreement that you both sign. That way your teen driver understands that there are consequences to breaking the rules.
Teenage Driver Checklist for Parents
Maybe your teenager is the most well-behaved teenager ever. However, a teen’s good judgment and behavior still aren’t a replacement for experience. Parents need to keep parenting. Set limits and expectations with your teens. Sure, they might throw a fit when you tell them that they can only have 1 passenger at a time until they’re 18, but you’re still the parent.
For more in-depth information on teen driving and what parents can do, take the next step and download the Checklist and the Parent-Teen Driving Agreement. The Checklist will help you reduce risk factors and show you a few topics to cover with your teen driver. The Agreement will reinforce the message and lay out clear consequences.
Parents are the key to safe teen driving. Take the next step and talk to your teen drivers!