Learning how to drive and getting a license is probably the most dangerous rite of passage for modern teenagers. Thousands of teens get hurt in car crashes every year, and some of them die. As a parent, you want to give your child every opportunity to thrive while also protecting them from the most significant risks and dangers that they face.
Setting rules and boundaries is one of the most important parts of teaching your young adult how to navigate the world. There are four rules for new drivers that might help keep your teen safe on the road.
- Institute a zero-tolerance policy requiring safety restraints
It can be hard for teenagers to make safe decisions in part because the portion of the brain that allows us to consider consequences is still in the process of growing. Wearing seat belts may seem ridiculous because the chance of getting into a crash is minuscule. Strict enforcement of a seat belt requirement will make sure that your teen prioritizes safety when they get in the car.
- Ban the use of mobile devices in the vehicle
Lead by example, and make sure that your teen driver knows it is never acceptable to text or use a mobile device while driving. Distraction may only take someone’s eyes off the road for a few seconds, but they can go far enough in those few seconds to be in a completely different situation than when they looked down at their phone. A rule against handheld phone use can reduce distractions that could put your teen at risk.
- Limit the passengers and the hours that they drive
The more people a young driver has in their vehicle and the later at night they are on the road, the greater their overall risk for getting into a crash. All their passengers can serve as a distraction, and late-night driving can be particularly difficult for those still developing their driving skills. By having a driving curfew and a limit on the number of passengers your teen can carry, you help avoid some of the more common risks for crashes.
- Make sure they know that impaired driving is unacceptable
Between what they’ve seen in the media and heard at school, your young adult likely knows that drunk driving is dangerous even if you haven’t directly talked about it. Still, you need to have a discussion about chemical impairment.
Plenty of teens choose to experiment with drugs or alcohol at some point. You don’t have to approve of that behavior to tell your teen that they can always turn to you for a ride if they try something at a party. Let them know that there is no consequence for calling for a sober ride, but that there definitely would be for driving drunk.
By instituting rules about safety restraints, texting at the wheel, impairment and other safety risks, you help encourage your young driver to develop healthy and safe habits that will protect them from getting into a major car crash.