The Talk Before Teens Head Out For Adventure
Parents naturally worry about their teen’s safety, especially when that teen is behind the wheel during the prolonged break from school.
Safety experts urge parents to stay involved with their young one’s driving habits.
The National Safety Council is using the "100 Deadliest Days", the period between Memorial Day to Labor Day, to remind teen drivers they aren’t invincible and this time of year poses a bigger threat than any other time.
“As a group of days, it’s the riskiest period of time all year,” said Kathy Bernstein, senior manager of teen driving initiatives for the National Safety Council. “It’s especially dangerous for new drivers.”
The NSC reports summer -- when more drivers are joyriding or traveling -- is when something is most likely to go wrong.
“It’s not enough to say ‘You have your license, you’re good to go,’” Bernstein said. "We really recommend parents be prescriptive in what they expect and that they hold their teen accountable.”
That’s especially vital between Memorial Day and Labor Day, Bernstein said, a time which statistically presents the most risks for young drivers.
Bernstein encouraged parents to actively stay involved with their teen driver.
Ask where they are driving, when they expect to return and who they are meeting. Aimless driving or “going out for the sake of going out” leads to disaster, Bernstein said.
“The more purposeful the driving, the less the teen is likely to veer off course.”
Statistics for teen driving in summer are sobering. Over the last five years, more than 1,600 people were killed in crashes involving teen drivers during this deadly period, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Although the NSC emphasizes teen safety, the group emphasizes that the 100 Deadliest Days campaign applies to all drivers, regardless of age or experience.
Avoid texting while driving and be mindful of your surroundings, Bernstein said.
"Loud music or distractions from passengers can be more risky than texting. Teens need to realize those passengers are as bad -- if not worse – than texting,” she said.
To help teens establish healthy habits, Bernstein suggests parents spend at least 30 minutes a week in the passenger seat while their teen drives. They also should create an agreement with their teen driver.
The organization’s teen driving website, DriveItHome.org, offers a contract for both parties to use as a guideline. It lays out expectations and requirements and offers young drivers clarity on their exact responsibilities.
Bernstein offers the following suggestions for parents and their teen drivers:
- Spend at least 30 minutes a week in the passenger seat while your teen drives. Use this time to see how they drive and talk with them about safety and the dangers of driving.
- Encourage your teen driver to take extra precaution during summer months, when the most teens are on the road.
- Talk to your teen about the dangers of distracted driving. Remind them that there’s never an excuse for texting and driving. Tell them to pull over to somewhere safe and park the vehicle before texting.
- Parents should take an active role in their teen driver. Ask where they are going, who they are meeting and when they expect to return.
- Create a teen contract and have them sign it as part of their agreement to drive sensibly.
- Utilize sources on the National Safety Council site for teen drivers. Go to: http://www.driveithome.org/Resources/Pages/parentteenagreement.aspx