State Auto understands that teenage drivers have the highest crash-risk of any age group. Per mile traveled, they have the highest involvement in motor vehicle crashes of all types. The problem is worst among 16-year-olds, who have the most limited driving experience and an immaturity that often results in risk-taking behind the wheel. Here’s what parents can do to help their teenagers drive safely:
- Don’t rely solely on driver education. Teens’ attitudes and decision-making matter more than poor skills. Peers are influential, but parents have much more influence than typically is credited to them.
- Know the law. Become familiar with restrictions on young drivers. Enforce the rules. Learn about the law in your state from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
- Restrict night driving. Most young drivers’ nighttime fatal crashes occur from 9 p.m. to midnight, so teens shouldn’t drive much later than 9. Late outings tend to be recreational, and even teens who usually follow the rules can be easily distracted or encouraged to take risks.
- Restrict passengers. About 6 of every 10 teenage passenger deaths (59 percent) during 2003 occurred in crashes with a teen driver. The best policy is to restrict teenage passengers, especially multiple teens.
- Supervise practice driving. Take an active role in helping your teenager learn how to drive, spread over at least six months and continuing even after a teenager graduates from a learner’s permit to a restricted or full license.
- Remember that you’re a role model. Teens with crashes and violations often have parents with poor driving records.
- Require safety belt use. Belt use is lower among teenagers than older people. Insist on belts all the time.
- Choose vehicles for safety, not image. Teenagers should drive vehicles that reduce their chances of a crash and offer protection in case they do crash.
* Courtesy of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (www.iihs.org)