Getting a driver’s license is an important milestone in the life of a teenager. It’s also a time when many parents’ stress levels skyrocket.
Driving can be dangerous and young people can make poor decisions.
As a parent, how can you allow your teen to enjoy this newfound freedom while at the same time keeping him or her safe? According to experts, teens whose parents discuss driving expectations with them in advance are less likely to take unnecessary risks.
Six tips to keep in mind to help your teen driver get off to a safe start:
- Buckle up: Using a seat belt helps keep everyone safe. Model good behavior by wearing your seat belt at all times, and requiring everyone else in the car to do so as well.
- Zero tolerance for drunk or impaired driving: Alcohol and teen drivers don’t mix. Drunk driving laws are more stringent for teen drivers. In Ohio, the blood alcohol content limit for drivers under the age of 21 is .02. If convicted of drunk driving, an underage driver faces mandatory license suspension for 60 days and the driver must re-take the driver’s license test.
- Limit passengers: Passengers, especially other teens, can be distracting. Teen drivers may feel pressured to “show off” and engage in risky driving practices like speeding, weaving or sudden braking. Parents should make rules about who is and who isn’t allowed to ride in the car with their teen driver.
- Restrict distractions: Texting, talking on the phone, using social media or responding to email are all dangerous distractions while driving. A zero-tolerance approach is the only safe approach here.
- Maintain appropriate speed: Teens might test the limits by speeding. Unfortunately, this is very risky behavior. Encourage your teen driver to obey the speed limit, and don’t forget to set an example yourself.
- Nighttime and all-weather driving: Teens are more likely to make mistakes and crash at night and in bad weather. Make sure your teen driver has supervised opportunities to practice driving in different conditions.
Most importantly, encourage your teen to speak up. Keeping the lines of communication open with your child is important. These tips can help your teen driver stay safe on the road.