Getting Your Teen Ready to Drive

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). A study in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons, teens have a “It can’t happen to me” attitude. They believe that they are better than their parents at multi-tasking while driving; that if they are injured, medical technology has advanced enough to fix them; that their age and agility are enough to overcome poor driving conditions; and that believe that vehicle and highway design are bigger factors in crashes than human error. Fortunately, these five following guidelines are proven strategies that can keep our teens safer on the road and help teens shake the “It can’t happen to me” attitude because it CAN happen and it DOES happen at an alarming rate on Minnesota roads.

1. Click It
Seat belts are not uncool. They may be the coolest thing you have in the car. The mere act of buckling your seat belt can save your life in an accident. According to the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), or NHTSA, 60 percent of 16- to 20-year-olds who were involved in fatal crashes were not wearing their seat belts.

2. Get Off the Phone
No, you cannot multitask. The phone has no place in your car outside of an emergency. Parents: There are apps you can install on your teen’s phone that will allow you to turn it off while they are in the car. Use them; they work well. There should be no talking, texting or checking out social media while you are behind the wheel.

3. Night Driving
41 percent of accidents involving teenage fatalities occurred between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. Night driving should be limited for teenagers until they gain more experience behind the wheel. Visibility is limited at night and, coupled with inexperience, can lead to very dangerous situations for teenage drivers.

4. Passengers
With three or more friends in the car, the chance of being in an accident is raised by four times. This is because the more people that are in the car, the more distraction there is. Driving with a car full of people can make it difficult for the most experienced driver to concentrate on the road. Passengers in the car with a teen or new driver should be limited to one if at all possible.

5. Rules
You have rules for when your child has to be home at night. You have rules that dictate the chores that must be done around the house, who your child can spend time with, what type of activities they can take part in and more. You should also have rules for the car. Your teen should understand these rules and know the consequences if they are broken. If your teen cannot abide by the rules, take the keys.

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