Saturday, October 17, 2009

It’s Time to Talk to Your Teen About Safe Driving

National Teen Driver Safety Week (NTDSW), October 18 – 24, has been designated by Congress as a time for communities, schools and families to raise awareness and provide solutions to teen driver crashes, the leading cause of death for teens in the U.S.

We encourage parents to talk with their teens about the risks associated with driving and to set clear expectations for teen drivers and passengers. Here are 5 tips to get the conversation started:

  1. Absolutely No Alcohol. Teen drivers (ages 15-20) are at far greater risk of death in crashes where alcohol was present than the rest of us, even though they cannot legally purchase or possess alcohol.
  2. Seat belts: Always Buckle Up! Teens buckle up far less frequently than adults do. The very first thing you can do is to be a role model for your children by buckling yourself up every time you get in the car. When your teen is ready to drive, remind them that whether they are driving across town or just around the neighborhood, wearing seat belts is the absolute best way to protect themselves and their passengers from severe injury or even death in the event of a crash.
  3. Cell phone/texting: No talking or texting while driving. Talk to your teen drivers about the risks of talking, texting and other distractions, and set clear expectations about driving habits. Distracted driving results in a slower response rate which could be deadly to a pedestrian or a driver.
  4. Curfew: Have the Car in the Driveway by 10 p.m. Talk to your teen driver about when you expect them to have the car back in the driveway. The reason for setting a “home-by” rule is to protect your kids by keeping them from driving during the high-risk nighttime hours.
  5. Passengers: No more than one at all times Research shows that the risk of a fatal crash goes up in direct relation to the number of teenagers in the car. Non-adult passengers can be a dangerous and fatal distraction for young novice drivers. Also teach your child to be an considerate passenger who doesn’t distract the driver.
And remember, it's also extremely important to lead by example. Follow the rules of the road. Always wear a seat belt, don’t talk on a cell phone while driving and don’t speed. Your child watches your every move.

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