Teenagers are statistically more likely than any other age group to be involved in automobile accidents, particularly those that are more severe. At PURE, we regularly see claims involving teen drivers, many of which could easily have been avoided. Distracted driving, particularly from cell phone use, is a common cause of these accidents. Others simply reflect teenagers' lack of driving experience. As a parent, you can help your teenager become a safe and skilled driver by setting a good example and discussing safe driving practices.
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Advice for Parents of Teen Drivers
The following advice can help ensure your teenager is safe while on the road:
Employ driver safety technology and apps
There is no shortage of technology available to support a safer driving experience among teens. From in-car features like Chevrolet’s Teen Driver Technology that allows parents to program limitations on speed and geography to apps like TrueMotion Family that track and score driving behaviors, parents have the ability to promote and nurture responsible driving.
Prevent distracted driving.
Making a phone call while driving increases your teen's risk of an accident by six times, and texting while driving increases the risk by 23 times.1 Consider a device or app that will help your teenager resist distractions such as text messages, music selection or other non-driving smartphone uses. The market for these solutions is growing rapidly, and many different options exist. Some even offer feedback regarding the driver's skill and safety practices, providing opportunity for improvement. We recommend researching these devices and apps before deciding which one may fit your family's needs best.
Choose vehicles with safety in mind.
The best vehicle choice for your teenager is one that reduces their chances of crashing and offers protection from injury in the event of an accident. Ensure their car is equipped with the latest safety technology, including side airbags and electronic stability control. Although your teen may be drawn to smaller-sized or high-performance vehicles, these introduce dangerous risk factors: small cars don’t offer the ideal protection during collisions, and inexperienced drivers can easily lose control of high-performance vehicles.
Restrict teenage passengers.
When teens have passenger in the car, the risk of a fatal accident doubles. When there are more than two passengers, it increases five times.2 This is because passengers can easily distract a newly licensed driver, and their presence may also lead to greater risk-taking. These crashes happen during the day and at night, so the best policy is to restrict teen passengers at all times.
Restrict night driving.
The most severe teen crashes occur between 9 PM and midnight. In addition to the fact that night driving requires more skill behind the wheel, late-night outings tend to be recreational. Even teens who usually follow safe driving practices can be easily distracted or tempted to take risks. Setting restrictions around driving after 9 PM can help to increase safety.
Limit driving in bad weather.
Bad weather makes driving more dangerous for people of all ages, but teen drivers, in particular, lack the experience to react safely in wet or slick conditions. Limit your teen’s unsupervised driving in severe weather until they gain more experience.
Enroll in a driver safety program.
Teenagers who did not take a driver’s education class are responsible for 91% of all teen-driver crashes.3 Driver safety programs and courses are offered by many different organizations across the country. Enrolling your teen in such a program is a great way to help them learn safer driving techniques in a controlled and strategic environment. Contact a PURE Member Advocate® at 888.813.7873 or firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance with finding a program in your area.
Play an active role.
Don’t just rely on driver's education—take an active role in helping your teenager learn to drive. Plan a series of practice sessions that include a wide variety of situations, including night and bad-weather driving, and continue to teach and supervise as your teenager graduates from a learner’s permit to a restricted or full license. Also, remember that you’re a role model and can lead by example. 77% of teens report that their parents say not to text and drive, but do so themselves.4 Take the opportunity to demonstrate how you'd like your teenager to drive while you're behind the wheel.
Emphasize the importance of seat belts.
Teenagers and young adults have the lowest seatbelt use rate of any Americans. Just because your teenager wears their seat belt while you're in the car doesn't mean it will be worn when they are driving alone or with peers. Insist that every member of your family get into the habit of wearing a seat belt at all times, even in the back seat or during very short trips.
Prohibit drinking and driving.
Help your teenager understand that it’s illegal and highly dangerous to drive after drinking alcohol or using any other drug. While alcohol isn’t a factor in the majority of fatal crashes that involve 16-year-old drivers, it still represents a threat. Even small amounts of alcohol are impairing for teenagers.
Get it in writing.
Download PURE’s Parent/Teen Driver Agreement to outline driving privileges and document specific penalties for rule-breaking. Discuss the contents of the agreement with your teen and have them sign it. This way, the rules and potential consequences will be documented and agreed upon ahead of time.
1. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 2. TeenSafe. 3. Oregon Department of Transportation. 4. AT&T Teen Driver Survey.