Memorial Day has come and gone as has the school year. Summer has arrived with rising temperatures and teen are thinking about freedom, summer vacation, maybe a job, or some other activity for the next couple of months.
Many teens will be getting their first driver’s license and have the opportunity to drive on their own. Even if it’s to chauffer a younger sibling to ball practice or run to the store to pick up some last minute item for that night’s dinner, they are driving! What most don’t realize is summer is one of the most deadly times for teen drivers.
According to the insurance institute for Highway Safety, 8 of the top 10 deadliest days for teen drivers fall between June 1 and August 31. The top 10 deadliest days, as measured from 2007 to 2011 are:
- July 4
- August 29
- August 1
- August 2
- August 14
- September 26
- November 24
- June 21
- June 27
- July 8
No one really knows why these days are the top 10 days for teen auto fatalities. There are a number of educated guesses with the most prevalent being experience. Summer is when a number of teens with newly minted driver’s license hit the road and they simply don’t have the experience behind the wheel as someone who’s been driving for a couple of years or more.
Driving experience is a learned and practiced skill. It’s one thing to be told what to do when you’re in a classroom and another to experience and then respond accordingly. I believe there are a number of things parents can do to help better prepare our teens to driver. Here are 7 suggestions for parents to consider.
- Limit the number of people in the car that can ride with them, or that they can ride with. Texas law restricts the number of passengers in the car to 1 below the age of 21 when no adult is present.
- Avoid giving a teen primary access to a vehicle in their first year of driving. Let them earn it based on their level of responsibility.
- Talk with them about safe driving habits. They will listen!
- Take them out driving and expose them to multiple driving scenarios such as driving in the rain or rush hour traffic on LBJ Freeway. Better to learn it with you present than on their own.
- Encourage them to drive with no distractions such as cell phones (Texas law states no driver younger than 18 can use a cell phone while driving) and no music. First year drivers should learn to hear and see what’s going on around them.
- Set a curfew. Texas law states no driver younger than 21 may drive between midnight and 5:00 a.m. without an adult present. This time counts for nearly two thirds of all wrecks involving young drivers.
- Set geographic limits where they can drive. Start them with a small area and expand them as their experience grows.
Consider giving them a free pass to call you and have you pick them up at anytime and anywhere with no questions asked. There are times when they know they are not in a safe place and this gives them the freedom to ask for help without having to tell you the whole situation that may involve one of their friends.
What do you think? Share your thoughts, suggestions, and questions with me on my Facebook, Google +, and LinkedIn pages. I’d love to hear from you!