Help your teen follow the rules of the road and stay safe
Believe it or not, parents can be the biggest influence on a teen’s choices behind the wheel. That’s why it’s critical for parents to talk to their teens about how to stay safe while driving.
“We want parents of teen drivers to understand the vital role they play in communicating important driving safety information,” said trauma surgeon Alex Luis, MD. “Teens lack experience behind the wheel, and that increases the chance for dangerous circumstances for them and others around them.”
Dr. Luis recommends parents share the Rules for the Road from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration with their driving teens. These rules are:
- Don’t drive impaired. Remind your teen that drinking before the age of 21 is illegal, and alcohol and/or marijuana and driving should never be mixed, no matter your age. Also remind them that driving under the influence of any impairing substance — including illegal, prescription or over-the-counter drugs — could have deadly consequences.
- Buckle up. Every trip. Every time. Everyone. If you wear your seat belt every time you’re in the car, your teen is more likely to follow suit. Remind your teen that it’s important to buckle up on every trip, every time, no matter what (both in the front and back seats), including in taxis and when using ride-sharing services.
- Eyes on the road. Hands on the wheel. All the time. Remind your teen about the dangers of texting or using their phone while driving. Require your young driver to put their phone away when they are on the road and turn on the “Do Not Disturb” or similar feature on their phone. Distracted driving isn’t limited to phone use as other passengers, audio and climate controls in the vehicle, and eating or drinking while driving are all sources of dangerous distractions for teen drivers. Know your state’s law regarding mobile phone use and texting while driving restrictions.
- Obey all posted speed limits. Speeding is a critical issue for all drivers, especially for teens who lack the experience to react to changing circumstances around them while driving. Obey the speed limit and require your teen to do the same.
- Limit passengers. With each passenger in the vehicle, your teen’s risk of a fatal crash increases. Review your state’s GDL law before your teen takes to the road. It may restrict the number of passengers in the vehicle during the initial novice driver permitting stage, and it may further dictate who can ride in a car being driven by a teen or novice driver.
“Start the conversation with your teen about safe driving habits today and continue the conversation every day. Even if it seems like they’re tuning you out, keep reinforcing these rules,” said Dr. Luis. Teens are listening and constant reminders about safety while driving will get through and help lead them to safer driving, for them and everyone else on the road.
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