There’s nothing quite like that special moment when your child brings home their drivers license for the first time. It’s both a proud and worrisome time for all parents. And both of those feelings are normal and quite right. In part one of our ongoing series on teen driver safety, we’ll try to help alleviate some of the latter. Nothing will ever rid a parent of all worry, but we can do everything we can to help you - and your child - prepare for the road ahead.
Drivers’ Parent Worry #1: Texting and Driving
It may surprise you to find this at the very top of the list. But in 2019, texting and driving absolutely should be the biggest worry of any parent with a new teen driver. Texting alone accounts for an average of 11 teen deaths per day. Texting while driving is six times more likely to cause an accident than driving under the influence of alcohol. With stats like these, it’s small wonder why texting should be moved to the very top of the worry list.
Please, have a serious talk with your children about texting. You can’t exactly take their phone away from them, because they need it for emergencies, especially while on the road. So it will ultimately fall on their shoulders to be responsible. Make them aware of that fact. Guilt them. Do whatever you have to in order to make them understand the severity of this issue.
Drivers’ Parent Worry #2: Phone Apps and Driving
Are you seeing a pattern here? The New York Times cited smartphone apps as a leading reason for the biggest spike in traffic deaths in 50 years, thanks to an increase of distracted driving. For example, Waze is an incredibly useful and powerful navigation app for drivers, but it “rewards” said drivers for reporting traffic conditions in real time. Then, there are hyper-popular games like Pokémon Go that have drivers searching for imaginary creatures on the nation’s highways. And of course, there are the “selfie-teens.” In one incident, a teenager actually used Snapchat to record her vehicle while traveling at 115 miles an hour just before the collision.
If you’re using a navigation app, leave it alone unless you’re stopped somewhere safe. And don’t risk taking time to send live traffic reports. Parents need to talk to their teen drivers about the importance of not even touching their phones while driving, except in emergencies. In fact, in many states, it’s the law.
Drivers’ Parent Worry #3: Speeding
This one sounds like it should be obvious, but let’s face it: Once they start feeling confident, teens like to go fast. Like many adults, they tend to think that posted speed limits are more like “suggestions,” rather than a law. Depending on the circumstances, going five miles over what’s on a sign is usually okay. Going 10, 15 or more is not. Not only are they putting themselves and other drivers at risk of serious injury or death, they’re also running the high risk of being pulled over, fined or worse. It may sound cliche, but many teens even engage in high-risk “racing” of sorts, mainly thanks to pressure from their peers. If you’ve ever seen two vehicles weaving in and out of lanes on a highway, often starting from behind you and ending up in front of you, you know exactly what we’re talking about.
Explain to your teens that breaking the speed limit is no joke. Doing so is breaking the law, and so is putting everyone around them in danger. And speeding tickets and traffic violations can raise insurance premiums, as they indicate higher risk clients for insurance carriers.
In our next article on teen driver safety, we’ll address (and justify) some additional parental worries, and walk you through how best to bring up those subjects with your now-licensed child. As a parent, many times all you can do is give them the information and hope for the best. At Freeman and Sherburne, we’re here to supply you with all the information you can use.
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