Last updated on May 16, 2017 at 02:41 pm
According to the CDC, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens. Per mile driven, teen drivers ages 16 to 19 are three times more likely than drivers aged 20 and older to be in a fatal crash.
As a mom those statistics are terrifying. And hearing the stories behind the statistics is nearly unbearable. I have had the opportunity to work with the Mike Kellenyi, founder of PADD and father of Nikki Kellenyi, through many of the Plymouth Rock Distracted Driving efforts, and Nikki continues to remind me daily of the gravity of this issue.
I look at my 7 year old son, and wonder how I will ever be able to protect him… from himself and his friends. The CDC offers some great tips for parents; here are my takeaways:
- Be involved. Practice driving as often as you can with your teen. While I cringe when I recall my own practice time with my dad (not a quiet and peaceful ride!), the fact is that the more experience he or she has behind the wheel, the safer they’ll drive. Discuss the rules, as well as consequences for breaking them. Many parents are reinforcing the discussion by creating a parent-teen driving agreement.
- Practice what you preach. Make sure your actions demonstrate the type of behavior that is acceptable behind the wheel. Wear your seatbelt and for goodness sakes, don’t text or use the phone without hands free technology. In our recent distracted driving study, Plymouth Rock in NJ revealed that many young drivers are mimicking the behavior of their parents. In fact, one in four young drivers polled have witnessed a parent texting while driving and 57 percent have witnessed a parent using a phone without hands-free technology.
- Consider placing restrictions on your new driver. There are certainly factors that can increase the likelihood of a crash, so think carefully about whether your teen is ready to at night and when there are other teens in the car.
Are you the parent of a teen or young child? What steps are you taking to “tame the teen driver”? Were there any actions your parent took that impacted your decisions on the road? The team at Plymouth Rock would very much appreciate any advice we can get!