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National Teen Driver Safety Week: October 17-23

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By Cara Beth Lewis

It is always important to do all that we can to stay safe behind the wheel. This week, National Teen Driver Safety Week promotes safe habits for teen drivers and the importance of following the rules of the road. It is especially important for teen drivers to be extra cautious, as they are some of the most inexperienced drivers on the road.

National Teen Driver Safety Week began on October 17th, and will continue until the 23rd. Trafficsafetymarketing.gov says, “This week, and every week, parents should have conversations with their teens about the important rules they need to follow to stay safe behind the wheel of a motor vehicle.”

Traffic Safety Marketing offers the following tips for parents of teen drivers:

Be Empowered to Set Driving Rules!

  • Remember: You are a parent first. As such, your job is to protect your teen. Use this motivation to keep your teen safe as they start navigating their new role as a driver.

  • Remind your teen that driving is a privilege, not a right. As the parent, you are in control. If they aren’t following the Rules for the Road, they don’t need keys to the car.

  • Have a conversation with your teen driver about driving laws and safe driving habits. Your desire to keep them safe will never fade, so make sure to always keep the lines of communication open. Believe it or not, your teen is listening and they depend on you to guide and be there for them.

  • Become familiar with your state’s nighttime driving restrictions, passenger restrictions, and all the graduated driver licensing (GDL) restrictions. Self-reported surveys show that teens with parents who set and enforce firm rules for driving typically engage in less risky driving behaviors and are involved in fewer crashes. By knowing and enforcing the laws with your teen, you will help promote their safety and the safety of those around them.

  • Be a good role model for your teen driver and set the example with your own safe driving habits.

  • Talk to your teen about cell phone use while driving. Encourage them to stow their phones, designate a texter, or to pull over before answering phone calls, texting, or engaging with any social media apps. Remind your teen that it’s not only unacceptable to post on social media while driving but illegal.

In the United States, motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for ages 15-18, which is why it is important to promote safe, responsible, and cautious driving habits in this group. Studies show that parents are the biggest influencer when it comes to teen’s driving habits. It is important that young adults and teenagers are aware of the risks and dangers that come with operating a motor vehicle.

To be safe while driving, it is vital to remember the Rules for the Road:

  1. Don’t Drive Impaired.

Set a good example by not driving after drinking or consuming marijuana or other impairing substances. Remind your teen that drinking before the age of 21 is illegal, and alcohol and/or marijuana and driving don’t mix, no matter your age. Also, remind them that driving under the influence of any impairing substance — including illicit, prescription, or over-the-counter drugs — could have deadly consequences.

  1. Buckle Up — Every Trip. Every Time. Everyone — Front Seat and Back.

Lead by example. If you wear your seat belt every time you’re in the car, your teen is more likely to do the same. 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), even while in taxis or ride-sharing services.

  1. Eyes on the Road, Hands on the Wheel. All the Time.

Remind your teen about the dangers of texting, dialing, or using mobile apps while driving. Require your young driver to put their phones away and turn on the “Do Not Disturb” or similar phone features when on the road. Distracted driving isn’t limited to phone use. Other passengers, vehicle audio and climate controls, and eating or drinking while driving are all sources of dangerous distractions for teen drivers. Know your state’s law regarding mobile phone and texting while driving restrictions; 37 states and Washington, DC ban all cell phone use by novice drivers. Parents, take note: These laws aren’t just for teen drivers. See the Distracted Driving Law Chart. Set up a contract with your teen before they start driving. If your teen disobeys, don’t hesitate to enforce the penalties.

  1. 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 their cars. Obey the speed limit and require your teen to do the same.

Remember – Drive with care; Lives are depending on it.