This post is sponsored by SheSavvy and The National Safety Council. As always, all opinions are my own.
This is a post that I feel is absolutely the most important post I’ve ever written since starting our blog at Housewives of Frederick County.
The subject? Teen driving.
I would bet that each person reading this post has been affected, in one way or another, by a death of a teen due to a car accident.
My first exposure to this was when I was about 7 year’s old. My older cousin, who was around 16 year’s old at the time, was riding in a car that one of his friends was driving. From what I remember, speed was a factor in the crash. My cousin – David was his name – was in the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit in a coma.
He didn’t make it.
I remember the funeral, and I remember my grandmother, who was his primary caregiver, was forever changed.
Fast forward 40-some years. My first-born son is 16 year’s old. He got his Learner’s Permit! He’s ready to learn how to drive.
How to Assure Your New Driver is Safe
My husband and I are responsible for guiding our new driver to be competent and safe. Not only for himself, but also for anybody around him when he’s driving!
We’ve started the process of having our son drive short distances with either me or my husband in the front passenger seat.
This very well may be the first time I’m not in complete control with one of my kids!
Here are a few eye-opening things that I’ve discovered during this process:
- our son is a lot more scared about this than we are!
- you do not realize how much you take driving for granted until you’re teaching your child how to drive
- you have to remind yourself and your child to breathe during this process!
- your child WILL make mistakes, and he/she WILL make the same mistake repeatedly
- remind yourself not to engage in arguing with your child while he/she is driving; stay patient and encouraging as much as possible
- there WILL be times when you’ll need to firmly instruct your child to do something while driving – like “STOP!”, or “Move to the left because you’re about to sideswipe that car.” Don’t hesitate just because you don’t want to hurt their feelings – safety comes first!
- start small (like in an empty parking lot) and move up, gradually, to more challenging tasks
- I’ve had to remind my son that he doesn’t absolutely HAVE to go as fast as the speed limit sign says to if he doesn’t feel comfortable
“You’re in control of a moving, 2 ton bomb.” Yeah, this is what my husband has stated a few times to my son. He and I tend to have different parenting styles, like most husbands and wives. But, although you don’t want your child scared to death or panicked, you DO want your child to realize the responsibility that comes with controlling a car.
June 2016 is National Safety Month, and May 2016 was The National Safety Council’s (www.nsc.org) Global Youth Traffic Safety Month. What a great annual reminder to brush up on safe driving skills!
- Car crashes are the #1 killer of teens
- Teens crash most often because they are inexperienced – not because they take more risks behind the wheel.
- Other teen passengers are one of the biggest distractions for teen drivers. Just one teen passenger raises a teen driver’s fatal crash risk 44 percent. Two passengers doubles fatal crash risk. Three or more quadruples crash risk.
- Most fatal nighttime crashes involving teen drivers happen between 9 p.m. and midnight.
- More than half of teens killed in car crashes were not restrained by a seatbelt.
- Parents are the #1 influencer on teens’ driving behavior.
- Parents need to practice driving with their teen even AFTER they get their license.
- Parents should drive how they want their teen to drive.
- Parents should set rules in the home they don’t answer the phone while driving and you don’t expect their teen to answer the calls/texts while driving.
- Practice, practice, practice with your teen.
When I was given this opportunity to write this post, I was kind of “winging it” with helping my son learn how to drive. But, you don’t have to! There is an AMAZING website, called Drive It Home! It is chock full of great info for both parents and teen drivers to utilize in order to assure that ultimate safety is being practiced.
Just some of the great things you’ll find on the Drive It Home website:
- a contract that you and your teen can print and sign that outlines rules that you and your teen pledge to follow
- Digital Driving Coach – you can sign up for weekly emails with lessons that you and your child can practice
- TONS of resources, like short videos, quizzes and just useful info!
On the Drive It Home website, there is a great presentation you can’t miss – Steer Your Teen Down The Right Road presentation. Even if you don’t currently have a teen yourself, bookmark this site for any friends, family, or neighbors that do! If you have a younger child, save it for later – this issue is THAT important. I truly believe in the motto “it takes a village”.
Parents! Stay involved with your teen’s driving experience.
Even AFTER they get their license, practice with them and set rules in your house that are stronger than the state’s GDL (graduated driver licensing) law. Here is Maryland’s system.
Is there a loved one in your life that is a new teen driver?