Back-to-school season brings with it lots of excitement for teens as they gain more independence and drive around with friends, boyfriends and girlfriends to school, homecoming games, parties and more. You’re going to worry when your kids are out on the road, sure, but we have some tips to help you prepare them for the time they’re spending in cars without you — whether they’re behind the wheel or in the passenger seat.
1. BUCKLE UP
One in four teens doesn’t wear a seatbelt every time they’re in the car. Why? Most said they “forgot” — so make it a family rule to buckle up the second anyone gets in the car, before even putting the keys in the ignition. Even passengers need to be buckled up on every drive: Research shows that seatbelts reduce the risk of fatalities in front-seat passengers by 45 percent.
2. W8 2 TXT
For teens today, this is the new slogan: Don’t text and drive! Distracted driving, like fiddling with the radio and searching for something in the car, also includes texting — and all mean that the driver is not paying attention to what’s on the road. And ignoring that beeping alert from an incoming text is pretty hard to do.
Reading a text takes about five seconds…wait for it…keep waiting for it…still wait for it…which is about the time it takes to drive the length of a football field WITHOUT seeing anything in front of you. Turn those alerts to silent while driving to not be tempted, or pull over to check a text.
3. DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE
It goes without saying that alcohol and motor vehicles don’t mix. Make sure your teens know that even ONE drink can impair driving (besides being illegal) and ensure they know not to get into the vehicle of someone who has been drinking. But, even beyond that, work out a system where they can contact you should something happen and their only way home is with someone who has been drinking. The more your teen feels safe confiding in you, the more likely he or she will be to call and prevent what could be a tragedy.
4. MONKEY SEE, MONKEY DO
That’s right, Mom and Dad: If you want your teen driver to have safe driving habits, then guess what — you should, too. That means no tailgating when you’re in a rush, no rolling through the neighborhood stop sign, no flipping off the driver who cut you off (but you don’t do that anyway, right?), no zooming through that orange light — you know, the one that was yellow but is turning red as you’re almost under it and you really want to make it. And no texting!
5. PROPER MAINTENANCE
Let’s face it, your teens probably aren’t the best at staying on top of necessary maintenance and repairs — let alone spending their precious money on them. So, it’s your job as the parent to teach them (and remind them, again and again) about proper maintenance for their vehicle. That includes getting new tires — and rotating and balancing them — as needed. Balding tires make for unsafe driving in all seasons, since the treads won’t catch in snow and turn water into a slip-and-slide. Change the brakes as needed (as soon as the pads are worn down), make sure there’s always adequate, clean oil and keep the gas tank full. Having a broken-down car on the side of the road invites the potential for accidents.
6. NO CLOWN CARS
Cars can fit five teens while trucks may only fit two; SUVs and vans may be able to fit a couple more. Make sure your teen knows that there can only be the amount of people in the car that there are seatbelts for. That means no sitting on someone’s lap, no squishing down onto the floor, and certainly no sitting in the bed of a truck or the cargo area of an SUV. Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens — having everyone buckled up saves lives.
7. FOLLOW THE RULES
They’re teens, so they’re going to want to slide by without following every rule every time, even unintentionally. But the rules are there for their safety and protection — just like the rules you had for them when they were little. Reiterate how important it is to follow ALL the rules of the road: Including pulling over for emergency vehicles on the shoulder, no turning on red when posted, letting pedestrians cross, stopping at stop signs and every other rule on that driving test. Those rules aren’t only there for drivers, but for passengers, too.
THE MIKE MORSE LAW FIRM
If your teen driver is involved in an accident and needs a personal injury attorney, our team of experienced drivers at The Mike Morse Law Firm can help. Call 855-MIKE-WINS to talk to someone on our team today.