The summer months mean fun adventures for teens, including trips to the beach and joy rides around town. However, more time spent driving also puts teens at greater risk of getting into a fatal car accident.
Statistics tell us that May and June represent the 100 deadliest days for teen drivers, with an average of 13 teen deaths per day. Parents can greatly reduce this risk by setting limits on when their teen drives (including high-risk times, such as nights, weekends and in inclement weather) and how many passengers are in the car.
Sound harsh? Not so, says Phil Berardelli, author of Safe Young Drivers: A Guide for Parents and Teens. “This isn't about being harsh or overly strict; it's about being caring and loving and about taking parental responsibility seriously,” he says.
Here are more tips to keep your teen safe on the road this summer:
Set an example. “Parents may not realize it, but they have been teaching their kids to drive all along” says Berardelli. “Everything they do behind the wheel has been noticed, and chances are it will be emulated.” So steer away from risky driving habits in the car, like getting angry in traffic, eating, applying makeup, and talking on the cell phone (it's illegal in some states!)
Practice makes perfect. “Experts recommend a minimum of 100 hours of supervised instruction behind the wheel in all kinds of weather and road conditions, starting from the simplest and safest spot – an empty parking lot – and moving gradually into more complex situations,” says Berardelli.
Be car smart. If you're buying a car for your teen driver, keep in mind that there's a reason insurance premiums are higher for flashy sports cars. And, although an SUV may keep your teen driver safer, the odds of inflicting greater damage to others in the event of an accident are increased. Berardelli's recommendation? “A 1990's vintage station wagon such as a Ford Taurus or Toyota Camry – something ugly and underpowered, but serviceable.”
Stay in control. “If your teen grows impatient or rebellious, suspend the instruction until he or she resumes a better attitude.” Teens may get carried away with the sense of freedom that a pair of screeching tires can impart. Remind them, and yourself, that parental supervision doesn't stop with the license – it just shifts into higher gear.
Parenting a teen driver is a nerve-wracking experience, but you can help your teen be safer by letting the reins out--slowly.