The leading cause of teen vehicle crashes is inexperience. When first learning to drive, it’s natural to make mistakes. The best way to help eliminate mistakes is for teens to practice driving with their parents in the vehicle. All it takes is 30 minutes each week with the parent as a passenger in the car to make a difference.
According to a survey completed by AAA, three factors commonly result in deadly crashes for teen drivers are:
- Distraction – this plays a role in nearly 6 out of 10 teen crashes. This includes talking to other passengers in the car or looking at their smart phone.
- Not buckling up – teens who buckle up significantly reduce their risk of dying or being seriously injured in a crash.
- Speeding – this is a factor in nearly 30 percent of fatal crashes involving teen drivers.
The North Dakota Safety Council encourages parents to start by driving with their teens during the day in good weather conditions and on remote roads or in empty parking lots. Then, gradually move to dusk and nighttime driving, inclement weather, and busier roads.
Remember these five key tips when teaching your teen how to drive:
- Be calm and patient – if you just had an argument or someone is upset, wait to take the drive. Make sure the atmosphere is right for a good experience.
- Expect mistakes – the only way your teen can learn is to make mistakes. So be positive and try to help minimize risk when the mistakes happen. Praise correct driving.
- Give proper instructions – explain what your teen should do in advance, in a clear, calm voice.
- Stay focused – remember your teen is still learning, and you are the experienced driver. Scan the roadway for hazards and be ready to react, eliminate distractions, and always encourage this behavior in your teen.
- Drive the way you want your teen to drive – remember, teens see their parents as role models. That doesn’t change when they get their license. When you are behind the wheel, don’t do anything you wouldn’t want your teen to do. If they catch you – admit to your mistakes. It shows your new driver it is never too late to start driving safely.
Once your teen driver has some experience behind the wheel, help them avoid accidents by signing up for the NDSC’s Alive at 25 class. Alive at 25 is a teen driver safety course that focuses on behavior, judgement, decision making and consequences, and provides tools for making positive choices. Learn more here.