Most teenagers look forward with excited anticipation to the time when they learn how to drive. Their parents, on the other hand, spend too much time worrying about their safety while they are on the road. The fact that the Center of Disease Control (CDC) found in 2015, 2,333 teens in the United States ages 16–19 were killed and 235,845 were treated in emergency departments for injuries suffered in motor vehicle crashes isn’t helpful to assuage a parent’s fear. The only thing you can do as a parent is to teach your children how to drive safely. The last thing any parent wants to get is a phone call that their child has been involved in an accident.
There are four main areas of concern when you find yourself dealing with a car accident: safety, medical treatment, the law, and insurance. The right approach to each can save you headaches and hassle in the long run.
Don’t Text and Drive
Did you know that If you text and drive, you’re 23 times more likely to have a car crash? We have all heard the horror stories of people having tragic car accidents because they are texting while driving. Texting is considered to be the number one driving distraction that should be avoided at all costs. Hearing real stories from people who have lost loved ones or watching videos of horrible accidents can be a very powerful deterrent.
Make sure your message to your child is loud and clear. Don’t text and drive. If they are lucky enough to survive an accident without serious injury, what about the driver and passengers in the other car? Were they as lucky? If not, your child could not only be in legal trouble, they will have to carry that burden around with them for the rest of their life.
Although not nearly as tragic as the loss of a life or serious injury, what happens to your car if it is involved in a car accident? Depending on the severity of the accident, your car might sustain minor damage, structural more serious damage, or you might have a totaled car which means it’s no longer roadworthy. You can always find out the value of your car and sell it to companies that buy less than perfect cars. However, the loss of a life or the recovery from serious injuries is much more devastating.
Seat belt laws vary from state-to-state and are divided into two categories: primary and secondary. Whether it is illegal or not to drive without a seat belt in your state, it can literally be a life-saver. Make sure you are setting an example for your teen by wearing your own seatbelt.
Practice What You Preach
You can teach your teenager all the best ways to drive safely, but if you drive like a maniac, you are defeating your purpose. Make sure you model good and safe driving habits and start when your children are young. Don’t forget that even though we might not realize it, our children are watching everything we do and that includes how we drive. If they see you are not wearing your seatbelt or getting a speeding ticket, this will leave them with the impression that bad driving habits can’t be that bad if mom or dad is engaging in such behaviors.
Don’t Drink and Drive
As parents, we might not want to think that our children are drinking alcohol and maybe they aren’t. However, many teens do drink at parties even though they know they shouldn’t. There is no safe amount of alcohol a teenager can drink before driving. The very worst thing they can do is get behind the wheel of a car after consuming any amount of alcohol. It is important for you to make sure your child understands completely that their safety is your number one concern so they are not afraid of repercussions should they call you for a ride home. You might even want to make a deal with them that they will not get in trouble for drinking on a night they might call for a ride. You can discuss the drinking issues with them at a later date. Keep in mind the modeling rule and make sure that you too do not drive while under the influence of alcohol.
Unfortunately, there are no guarantees that your teenager will never get into a car accident. The best you can do as a concerned parent is prepare them, teach them, and model safe driving habits for them to follow.