The Centers for Disease Control says that in 2018, almost 2,500 teens in the United States were killed in car crashes. That’s about seven per day.
The National Road Safety Foundation is working to change those stats, and their Director of Operations Michelle Anderson says it starts with parents.
“It’s very important, especially as adults, that we model the best driving behavior in front of teenagers, our teens, because they actually mimic what we do and if we’re on the phone devices and we’re doing other things in the car that we should not be doing, more than likely our teens will do the same” she says.
Anderson shares some other tips parents of teens learning to drive:
- Learn about your state’s GDL (Graduated Driver Licensing) laws. GDL restrictions vary from state to state, so familiarizing yourself with the restrictions placed on your teen’s license can help you enforce those laws. Parents should follow GDL laws to establish important ground rules for their teen drivers. Click here for more about New York’s GDL laws.
- Parents should talk to teens about the dangers of drug and alcohol use. Remind them that it is illegal to drink under the age of 21, and it is illegal—and deadly—to drink and drive at any age.
- Don’t rely solely on driver’s education classes to teach your teen to drive. Driver’s education should be used as part of a GDL system, which in most states requires teens to have 30 or more hours of behind the wheel practice with a parent or other adult in order to qualify for a driver’s license.
- Open the line of communication with your child to know where their mindset is, as it will help you to understand what they’re likely to do behind the wheel.
- Make sure there are consequences: if your child doesn’t follow your rules or the state’s rules for teen drivers, take away their phone or other privileges.
Anderson adds, “We’re operating a two-ton vehicle. And when we can take our mind or our eyes off of the road from more than 3 or 4 seconds, you have at highway speeds travelled the length of a football field. That is a lot of damage that can be done to both you and those that are on the road.”
The National Road Safety Foundation, Inc. produces traffic safety programs on distracted driving, speed and aggression, impaired driving, drowsy driving, driver proficiency, pedestrian safety and a host of other safety issues. It distributes the programs free of charge to schools, police and traffic safety advocates, community groups and individuals. It also sponsors contests to engage teens in promoting safe driving to their peers and in their communities.