Nearly half of all young Australian injury-related deaths are due to road traffic crashes. This is a devastating fact for parents of teenage drivers. The main causes include lack of driving experience, speeding, neglecting seat belts, drinking and driving, driving at night or having distractions like texting or talking to other passengers.
As an adult, you understand these common risk factors and how they can greatly contribute to the danger of car crashes for teenage drivers. As a parent, understanding the risks involved in letting your teenager behind the wheel, you can act to greatly improve the situation and future outcome for your children.
We’ve compiled a list of tips below that will help you to mentor your teenage drivers into safer road users.
1. Be a good example
While high school driver education is a convenient way to teach teenagers how to drive, it may not always produce the best drivers. There are many things teenagers can learn from driver’s ed in terms of the actions and manoeuvres to take in case of emergency. Setting a good example when driving with your teenager is a great way to impart what you know while also reinforcing the lessons from driver’s ed.
2. Restrict driving at night
Driving at night is challenging for the best of us, but even more so for beginner drivers. It has been proven that most teenage driver car crashes occur at night, mostly after 9pm. So, naturally, restricting driving after 9pm will greatly reduce the risk of crashes. Many factors contribute to why driving at night can be a problem for new drivers. For starters, it’s the lack of experience, but also most night driving happens when teens are out with friends, so there is a possibility of having distractions or even drinking and driving.
3. Limit passengers
A US study shows that the risk of a 17-year-old having a car crash where someone is killed increases by 50% when a passenger is in the car with them. However, it increases by 160% when there are 2 passengers and by 200% when there are 3 passengers. The main causes are distractions but teens are also more likely to be encouraged into risk taking behaviours. Restrict your teenager to drive alone or limit passengers to one. Similarly insist that your child is the only passenger in a car of other teenage drivers.
4. Supervise driving lessons
Beginners can gain more driving experience when you let them drive in more challenging situations such as during night time or in heavy traffic. While it is crucial that you supervise them during these lessons, make sure that you avoid supervising too much. Allowing young drivers to think and work their way through situations will help them more than just instructing them what to do.
5. Insist on seat belt use
Buckling up is probably the most obvious and basic measure of car safety. You won’t believe the number of teens who neglect strapping on their seat belts when driving, especially when out with friends. Insist that your teenage driver uses a seat belt all the time.
6. Prohibit drinking and driving
It’s not just dangerous, it is illegal for a probationary driver to drive after drinking. Driving requires absolute concentration, quick thinking and good coordination. Even with alcohol contributing only to a small percentage of car crashes in teens that are 17-18 years of age, consuming even small amounts of alcohol can still impair driving.
7. Choose a safe car
Sure, your old car may be a perfect choice for your teenage driver…it was great for you when you were driving it a few years ago. But older cars don’t have the same safety features found in new models today. Whether you’re on a tight budget or your old car has sentimental value, the reason for handing your old wheels to your teen is understandable. But safety-wise it’s always smarter to go for a newer and much safer car.
You can’t be there every time your teen drives. If you’d like to see other ways to monitor your teenager’s driving habits and behaviours have a look at Free Vehicle Tracking.