For many teens, the arrival of summer means the end of high school and the beginning of a whole new chapter of life. Teens use their spare time to socialize with friends, and safety often is one of the last things on their own minds.
However, summer isn’t quite as carefree as it seems. Memorial Day and Labor Day – the unofficial ending and beginning of summer – bookend what’s referred to as 100 deadliest days for teen drivers on our nation’s roadways. During this period, countless teens die in horrific and preventable car crashes. Each year, we work to decrease fatalities, and we ask parents to help.
It’s imperative parents don’t become lax with all the house rules, even though parents play a crucial role in keeping their teen drivers safe all year. Those liberties shouldn’t jeopardize safety, though it’s tempting to give teens additional privileges when they are away from school. Nothing – no trip to the beach, concert or movie night – is worth the danger.
Here are five reminders for moms and dads whose teens are navigating the deadliest time of the year behind the wheel:
Friends can be fatal. Driving or riding with other teens is one of the biggest risks facing teen drivers. Peers are distracting to new drivers. Parents must not allow their teen to carry or ride with other teens, regardless of state law. Just one teen passenger increases a teen driver’s crash risk by 48 percent.
Stay away from the roads in the evening. New drivers do not have enough experience to properly gauge the complex nighttime driving environment. And they don’t have to be out very late to be at an increased risk. Most fatal nighttime teen-related crashes happen before midnight. Before 10 p.m, parents should require their teens to become off the roads.
Seat belts save lives. Since they became mandatory in 49 states, seat belt use has significantly increased amongst the driving population. Unfortunately, teens still have the best seat belt usage rates. By using belts as well, parents should make sure their teens use seat belts on every trip and set a great example.
Silence the cell phone. Behind the wheel isn’t the place for chatting, updating statuses, texting or emailing. Cell phone use – handheld and hands-free – increases crash risk fourfold, no matter a driver’s age or level of experience. Parents should enforce a cell phone ban with their teen drivers.
Experience is critical. Parents should drive with their teens for at least a half-hour each week, even after teens receive unrestricted licenses. Supervised driving is one of the only ways teen drivers obtain the behind-the-wheel experience they need. Parents can sign up to receive weekly driving tips and lessons at driveithome.org.
Parents should establish household driving rules with their teens. To ensure accountability and complianceparents, accountability and teens can sign a parent/teen agreement the effects for violating set rules.