5 Safe Driving Habits for Teen Drivers

In case you missed it National Teen Driving Week occurred two weeks ago.  The goal of National Teen Driving Week is to improve teens driving safety by getting parents and teens working together.  This year’s focus, “5 to Drive” was designed to start at least one conversation between parents and teens on safe driving habits.  My hope is that there would be multiple conversations between teens and parents on driving.  As a dad who’s helped raise three sons during their driving education process, I can attest there will be multiple opportunities to discuss all of the topics the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) suggests.

The underlying reason for these conversations is the following statistic: the number one cause of death for 14 to 18 year olds is motor vehicle crashes according to the Department of Transportation.  This goes for male and female teen drivers across the country.  In 2011, there were 2,105 teen drivers involved in fatal car crashes.  Poor driving decisions significantly contributed to the teen deaths.

The five discussion topics are:

  • No cellphone use (including texting) while driving
  • No extra passengers
  • No speeding
  • No alcohol
  • No driving or riding without a seatbelt

Cellphone Use:  Distracted driving is a major cause of fatal and non-fatal accidents among teens and adults.  Texting while driving significantly increases the odds of being involved in an accident.  Texas law prohibits cellphone usage, including hands free usage, while driving for anyone under the age of 18 except in the case of an emergency.  12% of all teen drivers involved in fatal crashes were distracted.

Extra Passengers:  Too many passengers can be very distracting for a teen driver.  The urge to participate in a discussion can be overwhelming and that puts everyone in the car at risk.  Texas law is clear on this issue too: no teen is permitted to drive with more than one passenger under the age of 21 who is not an immediate family member.

Speeding:  Aside from the impact a speeding ticket can have on your car insurance premium, it is a major factor in the number of teen deaths.  According to the NHTSA, speeding was involved in 35% of fatal car crashes involving teen drivers.  Slow down and arrive alive!

Drinking and Driving:  If parents drink, then set a positive example for your teen by not drinking and driving.  They will do as you do, not as you say.  Alcohol was found in the systems of teen drivers which resulted in the deaths of 505 people (teens and others in the cars they hit).  No one wants to live with the daily reminder they were responsible for someone else’s death.

Seatbelts:  Seatbelts save lives for both drivers and passengers.  Over half of all teenage passengers who died in crashes were unrestrained.  Texas law is clear on this: all people in the vehicle must be wearing a seatbelt.  Passengers not wearing a seatbelt can be ticketed just like the driver.

It’s easy to think our teens will not listen to us, but they do!  They will also tune us out when we nag them.  The key is to discuss this information in a supportive manner, with respect, and treating them like the young adults they really are.  The data proves it; out of 5,500 teens surveyed, 50% were less likely to crash when parents set clear rules, kept track of their activities, and did so in a supportive manner.  Model these same practices in your driving, and you’ll create a winning combination.

I’d like to offer two additional suggestions as someone who’s been there; talk about these things multiple times, especially when they’ve driven for you.  There will be many teachable moments when they do drive for you that will be the basis of conversations at a stop light or after the drive is over.  Take the time to expose them to various driving conditions too; driving at night, through construction zones (LBJ is an excellent place right now), in the rain, etc.  There’s a lot you can teach them that will help them develop excellent safe driving habits.

What suggestions do you have?  Share them with me on our Google + or Facebook pages, or in the comments section of our blog.  We’ll all become better parents and drivers because of it!

Evie Wise
Evie Wise


Evie Wise
Evie Wise

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