Unfortunately, that scenario plays out more often than not across Canada, the United States and many other countries on a daily basis. Whether it was speeding, alcohol, distraction from texting or talking to others, falling asleep in the wee hours of the morning behind the wheel or a host of other issues, many teens do not come home to their parents on any given day of the week.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), in 2013, 2,524 teens (ages 13-19) were killed in U.S. motor vehicle crashes. While that figure was an 11 percent drop from the previous year, it was still 2,524 too high.
While vehicle makers are doing their best to make even safer automobiles these days, it oftentimes comes down to who is behind the wheel and even sometimes a little bit of luck as to whether a teen or anyone else for that matter makes it safely home at the end of the day.
Parents Should Educate, Avoid Preaching
If you’re a parent with a young driver or drivers in the house, it is best to educate them, not preach to them or talk down to them when discussing driving safety.
Sure, most teens think they understand all the ins-and-outs of the road, but parents and most adults for that matter know differently. All parents can do is provide their son or daughter with the best advice possible before they get behind the wheel, encouraging them as opposed to discouraging them.
In order to put your son or daughter in the best spot possible to be a safe driver from day one until they turn in their license decades from now, keep these tips in mind:
- Vehicle safety – First and foremost, make sure the vehicle you get for them is safe. Oftentimes, teens are limited in money and/or their parents are, so it almost becomes natural to get them a second-hand used car. While you’re saving some money on the front end, make sure the car is mechanically safe so that you’re not losing money to collisions, injuries, and even worse on the back end;
- Avoid distractions – For older parents, tuning the dial on the radio was probably the biggest distraction back in the day. In recent years and certainly moving forward, cell phones have certainly become a distraction when not used properly. Whether you Order Vonage or another provider for your family’s home or smartphone, make sure your teens use their devices properly. That means not talking or texting when they’re behind the wheel or riding as a passenger with someone who is talking and driving. If you need to use your phone (emergencies) while in the car, pull safely off to the side of the road;
- Speeding – How many teens think they are invincible when they get behind the wheel? Unfortunately, a large number of them feel the need to speed, something that can leave them and/or others injured or even worse. Someone with decades of driving experience can be in an accident in a matter of seconds of getting in the car, so teens should never feel they are invincible because they are so young. Besides the danger factor involved with speeding, no teens want to find themselves staring at a few speeding tickets from the law;
- Drinking and Driving – Last but not least, parents should have the talk (even more than once and especially during prom time, spring break, graduation etc.) over the dangers of drinking and driving. Discuss with teens that not only do they have to be aware of their own actions, but those of other drivers. As too many families have unfortunately discovered over time, sometimes loved ones don’t come home due to the selfishness of other drivers who thought they were sober enough to get behind the wheel.
Parents have a ton of responsibilities raising teens, especially in today’s world.
Make the safety odds a little better when you connect with your teens.