Help Your Teen Become A Safe Driver
Driving is a big responsibility. You have just handed your child the keys to the family car. Are you and your child prepared? Teen drivers face many new challenges behind the wheel.
Unfortunately, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens. In 2017, over 3,000 teen drivers (15 to 19) were involved in fatal crashes. There were 297 people who died in crashes that involved teen drivers, 229 teens were killed in distraction-affected crashes, and 271 teen drivers involved in fatal crashes were distracted themselves.
Parents play a crucial role in teen driver safety. Parental reinforcement of good decision making can lead to safe driving habits that will last a lifetime.
- Establish ground rules. Set some house driving rules for your teen including:
- abide by all traffic laws and speed limits,
- must wear seatbelt,
- NO texting or talking on the phone while driving,
- NO drinking,
- only adults or approved passengers allowed in vehicle,
- must be home by curfew,
- must report in to where you are going and when you will arrive at the destination,
- report any incidents with the car,
- limited driving in inclement weather,
- be held accountable for all tickets and insurance premium increases, and
- be responsible for maintaining the car in good condition.
- Insurance coverage. Make sure your licensed child driver has been added to your policy. Your rates most likely will go up, but check for discounts. Florida requires all licensed drivers to carry the minimum coverage of $10,000 Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage and $10,000 Property Damage Liability coverage. It is recommended that you purchase additional coverage, such as Bodily Injury (BI) and Uninsured Motorist (UM), since teens are statistically more likely to be involved in an accident. Educate your teen that they are responsible for their actions behind the wheel and that bad choices often have expensive consequences.
- Proper vehicle care. Make sure your teen understands the features of the vehicle (read the owner’s manual) for usability and safety. This includes knowing what the dashboard warning lights mean, filling up the gas, checking fluid levels (oil, coolant, windshield fluid), tire pressure, ensuring clean headlights, and to even washing the car. All of these things can help keep them safe and avoid a tragic situation.
- What to do if in a crash. Teens need to know how to handle the situation (or an accident) and to stay calm. First, check for injuries or damage and call 911, even if a minor car accident. It is required to exchange information with other driver(s) including name, phone number, vehicle registration, driver’s license number, and insurance policy information. Also, tell them not to discuss the accident until the police arrive.
- Responsibility. Just because your teen has a driver’s license does not mean they are prepared to handle the responsibility of driving. Your teen needs to understand these are zero-tolerance issues for your family.