Per mile driven, drivers ages 16 to 19 are nearly three times more likely to be in a fatal crash than drivers aged 20 or older (IIHS).
Discuss and sign a Parent-teen Driving Agreement with your young driver.
Enforce the 5 to Drive
Discuss these rules (developed by NHTSA) with your young driver before handing over the keys.
Lead by example by following these rules as well.
Remind your teen that drinking before the age of 21 is illegal, and alcohol and driving should never mix no matter your age.
If you wear your seat belt every time you’re in the car, your teen is more likely to follow suit. Remind your teen that it’s important to buckle up on every trip, no matter how far or how fast.
Drive the speed limit and require your young driver to do the same. Every time speed doubles, stopping distance quadruples.
With each passenger in the vehicle, your teen’s risk of a fatal crash goes up. Don’t allow your new driver to ride with more than one passenger unless you are also present in the vehicle.
When you are supervising your new driver, make sure that they have plenty of practice in different areas and road conditions (including stormy weather, night time driving, etc.).
Higher-order thinking can help teach your new driver to think critically about potential risks and how to avoid dangerous situations. Anytime you are in a vehicle with your young driver, ask high-order thinking questions…
Discussion: Drivers who are traveling toward the sun may have a harder time seeing things the road. During this time of day, never assume that a car can see you.
Discussion: Swerving back and forth in lane. Traveling for distances while straddling two lanes. Running off of the road.
Discussion: Stay away from the swerving vehicle as much as possible, while still maintaining a safe speed.
Discussion: The distance between you and the next vehicle is how much space you will have to stop in time. If you follow too closely, you risk hitting another vehicle.
Discussion: An aggressive driver may be speeding and tailgating other vehicles. Anticipate that he or she may try to cut in front of you in a relatively small space. Don’t try to “block” aggressive drivers, instead, give them more space and try to be patient.
Learning how to drive? Awesome. Unfortunately, the first few years of driving are often the most dangerous. It’s important to be aware of the risks you now face behind the wheel. But don’t be discouraged. You have the power and ability to keep yourself and your friends safe by following these guidelines.
Speak up. Passengers accounted for nearly 1/3 of all traffic fatalities in the U.S. in 2013 (IIHS). It is your right as a passenger to speak up if you feel unsafe.
In any vehicle that you occupy, you have the power to prevent a crash. Empowered Passenger.
“You’re making me nervous. Can you slow down?”
“Here, let me text for you.”
“A friend of mine got in a bad wreck and I really don’t want to go through what she did. Can you please pay attention to the road?”
“I can’t believe that person is tailing that other car! That’s a wreck waiting to happen.”
(Some ideas taken from “5 ways to get drivers to stop texting” The Nemours Foundation)