When your teen first gets his or her driver’s license, it can be an exciting and nerve-wracking time. Drivers between the ages of 16 and 17 have three times the odds of being in a fatal crash than people over the age of 20, and car crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teenagers.
Fortunately, there are things that you can do as a parent to help keep your teenaged child safe behind the wheel.
- Make sure they have a purpose
Teens like to go out and just “drive around,” particularly when they have just received their license and the experience is still novel. However, your teen is less likely to get in an accident when he or she is driving to a specific destination. Do not allow your child to “just drive around.” Every time he or she sets out, verify the destination and estimated time of arrival and departure.
- Have a passenger policy
Passengers in a car can pose a distraction, which can be especially dangerous for inexperienced drivers. In Nevada, a young driver may transport only immediate family members for the first six months after getting a license. However, you may wish to extend this rule and prevent your teen from carrying passengers until he or she is a little more mature and experienced.
- Discuss laws and consequences
Be sure that your teen knows both the traffic laws in your jurisdiction and the driving rules in your family. Explain why certain behaviors are dangerous and discuss the consequences for any violations so your child knows what to expect.
- Lead by example
What you tell your teen about driving leaves less of an impression than what you do behind the wheel. Children of any age tend to mimic what they see their parents doing. Therefore, be sure that you do not engage in any behaviors that you want your teen driver to avoid, such as texting while driving or speeding.