According to a recent study done by AAA, the time between the Memorial Day and Labor Day holidays are some of the deadliest of the year to be on the road. The main reason? Teen drivers.
This summer period is deemed the “100 deadliest days” for drivers. A 2016 AAA study found more than 1,050 people – an average of 10 people every day – were killed in crashes involving teen drivers during this time.
With teens out of school for the summer, they are on the road more during the day as well as later at night. Speed and this increased nighttime driving, AAA found, were the major factors across most teen driving accidents.
What can parents do?
As a parent of a teen driver, you probably worry every time your kid takes to the road. While you have to give up a certain level of control and trust that they will make good decisions when you’re not with them, there are things that you can do to help instill safe driving habits in your teen:
Lead by example
This is perhaps the most important and impactful thing that you can do for your teen driver. Actions speak louder than words, and you should practice the same safe driving habits you’d want them to adopt when you’re not around.
-Watch your speed and obey all traffic laws
-Don’t put your car in drive until everyone in the car is buckled up
-Put your phone in your purse, glove box or somewhere else where you can’t be distracted by it and wait until your car is in park at your destination to take it out.
-Temper your frustration when you hit traffic, even if you’re running late, and stress the importance of arriving safely rather than quickly, and being courteous to other drivers.
-Never get behind the wheel if you’ve been drinking! Going out with your friends? Taking the family out for a nice dinner? If you’re having even a few drinks, use a ride sharing service, cab or designate a sober driver, and make sure your teens see this as a non-negotiable decision that you make every single time.
-Verbalize these decisions with your teen when you are driving and explain why they are important. For example: “While I wanted to pass that Suburban, I didn’t because there were too many people in the other lane to safely merge over. Better to be patient than cause others to have to slam on their brakes.”, or “I’m giving this car in front of me extra space because it’s raining and that means we need more room to brake if they were to stop suddenly.” Or “I’m expecting a call from your father but I’m leaving my phone in my purse and will check it when we get to the store. I can always call him back and it only takes looking away from the road for a couple seconds to get in an accident.”
Impose Curfews With The Car
Since most teen crashes happen in the late evening hours, it is a good idea to set limits on how late your teen is allowed to be out driving. Impose curfews for having the car out, and if there is something your child wants to stay out later for (that you approve of), arrange to pick them up or use a ride sharing service or cab. Give them the option to have their friend sleep over (or stay at their friend’s house) if they want to hang out after curfew so no one is driving in the late evening.
Limit the number of passengers your teen is allowed to have in their car, to minimize distractions on the road. A car full of teenagers will undoubtedly lead to distractions which makes it difficult for unexperienced drivers to manage while paying attention to the road.
Keep Communication Open
It’s important that your child is able to trust you enough to tell you if they should not get behind the wheel. While this doesn’t mean you should condone things like underage drinking without consequences, making sure you have a system with your teen where they can come to you if they are in a bind will help ensure their safety so they don’t feel the need to drive home when they shouldn’t be behind the wheel – or if their friend is driving and they feel they should not be in the vehicle with them. This can be as simple as letting them know that if they call you to be picked up, that you will hold all conversation on the situation until the morning and will always value their honesty and good judgement in coming to you.
From the experienced traffic attorneys and all of us at Anton Castro Law, we urge you and your teens to practice safe driving this summer.