Teens are always an easy target when it comes to talk about unsafe or distracted drivers.
Of course, the statistics seem to bear this out. In 2011, teens accounted for 10 percent of motor vehicle crash deaths. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released a report in 2012 that indicated that the risk of a 16 to 17 year old driver being killed in a crash increased with each additional teen passenger. The risk actually quadruples with three or more passengers.
And teens continue to have the highest crash rate of any group.
But, according to research studies also conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, teenagers learn by example and the more parents work with their teens on driving before they go solo, the better and safer those teen drivers will be. Parents teaching teens safe driving techniques in a wide variety of situations tends to rub off.
Consciously or unconsciously, teenagers pick up driving habits from their parents. For example, 88 percent of teens questioned in a 2012 Liberty Mutual/SADD survey said that they observed their parents speeding. Maybe not so coincidentally, 94 percent of those teens admitted that they had also sped.
Driving safety experts say that it is essential that parents lead by example when driving with their teens. Here are some tips for parents:
Don’t speed. What you think is a safe speed for you as an experienced driver might not be a safe speed for a novice driver who might emulate your behavior.
Always wear your seatbelt. It’s not only the law in 49 states, but it saves lives — and could potentially save the life of your teen should he or she be in a crash.
Put away the cell phone. It is tempting to answer that call in the car or to call somebody to tell them you are running late, but it still distracts you from driving and your teen picks up on those cues. Never text while driving.
Chill out. If you drive aggressively and angrily, you are telling your teen that is okay behavior. The last thing inexperienced teen drivers need is to add aggression to their mix of driving habits.
Practice driving with your teen in unfamiliar situations. The safe road home may be familiar and well worn, but it is not realistic to assume that your teen will always face routine driving situations. Practice driving with them on unfamiliar roads and teach them what to do in unconventional circumstances.
Remember, the wisdom you pass down to your teens can save them from injury and death — and save the lives of their passengers and other drivers. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Renée J. Nordstrand urge parents to teach teens safe driving habits before they go solo. Your good example is the best teacher.