Teenagers are known for making their parents nervous when they are behind the wheel. But for most parents, teenage drivers are a reality or a necessity.
The AAA emphasizes a list of ten things that parents can do to keep their teens safe:
1. Encourage teens to get enough sleep — Teens need about nine hours of sleep every night and a lack of sleep can negatively affect vision, hand-eye coordination, reaction time and judgment.
2. Eliminate distractions — Cell phones, and especially text messaging, are hazardous distractions for teens and parents should insist that phones be put away. Look your kid in the eye and have him or her promise not to text and drive.
3. Pick a practical car — A teen should drive the safest vehicle a family owns. Things to consider are vehicle type; size (larger vehicles fare better in crashes); and safety technology (think front and side air bags, anti-lock brakes and stability control systems).
4. Know and understand your teen — Determine when your teen is responsible enough to get behind the wheel.
5. No driving with friends or at night — Research indicates that a teen driver’s chances of crashing increase with each additional teen passenger. Teen crashes spike between 9 p.m. and midnight.
6. Create a parent-teen driving agreement —- Parents should establish rules and consequences that they and their teens agree on that extend beyond state laws.
7. Set a time each week for discussion and review — Designate a time to address concerns, review the teen’s driving performance and chart the progression towards established goals and benchmarks. (Blogger’s note: this may be impossible with hectic family schedules. Even a quick “how’s the car working for you?” in passing could open the door for conversation.)
8. Use a driving school — Driving is a risky activity for teens and warrants professional instruction. Schools that feature cutting-edge curriculums, high degrees of interaction and professionally trained instructors are suggested.
9. Practice, practice and practice some more — As a supplement to formal driver education, driving sessions with parents provide teens with chances to reinforce proper driving skills.
10. Be a responsible role model — Teenagers learn from their parents’ behavior and mom or dad’s actions behind the wheel influence teenage driving behavior.