Getting a driver’s license is a rite of passage for teenagers in New York, but teenagers are not known for always having the best judgment and they are less experienced behind the wheel than adults are. You may have bought your teen a car for their 16th birthday, but before handing over the car keys it is important to have a discussion about safe driving practices.
Topic one: Distracted driving
If your teen has a cell phone it is essential to talk to them about cell phone use while driving. Simply put, a cell phone should never be used while driving, as it can distract the motorist who could cause a car crash because they were focused on their phone, not the road. In fact, texting and driving encompasses all three major forms of distraction: visual distraction, manual distraction and cognitive distraction. Eating while driving, chatting with passengers and manipulating the radio or GPS are also distractions that could lead to a motor vehicle accident.
Topic two: Speeding
Many teens like to take risks without realizing the dangers these risks present. One risk is driving above the posted speed limit. In 2019 alone, speeding contributed to 27% of fatal motor vehicle accidents involving teen drivers. A false sense of confidence may lead a teen to think speeding is no big deal. Talk to your teen about the importance of following the speed limit, especially in bad weather, at night, on winding roads or in construction zones.
Topic three: Impaired driving
Although teens are not yet of legal drinking age, that will not stop some of them from experimenting with alcohol and/or drugs. Impaired driving should be avoided by all motorists, teens and adults alike. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 16% of teen drivers involved in a fatal motor vehicle accident had alcohol in their system. Teen drivers who are involved in a drunk driving accident will bear the consequences not only of causing a crash that could lead to civil liability, but there could also be criminal sanctions as teens cannot legally consume alcohol.
Topic four: Drowsy driving
Between school, part-time jobs and extra-curricular activities teens these days lead busy lives. Oftentimes this means they stay up late at night even if they have to wake up early in the morning. Teens need even more sleep than adults, as their bodies are still growing, but oftentimes a teen does not get enough sleep and is drowsy the next day. It is important to let your teen know that if they are too tired to drive safely, then they should not drive at all. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that motorists between the ages of 17 and 23 are at a higher risk of being involved in a drowsy driving accident.
The bottom line
Ultimately, it is up to parents to discuss these safety topics with your teen drivers. It is also important that you serve as a good example and follow these safety tips as well. Parents have a lot of influence on their children, and this includes teenagers who may need some reminders on safe driving practices so they can avoid causing a car accident that could lead to injuries or fatalities.