Pediatrics | Published October 31, 2018

Six tips to keep your teen safe behind the wheel

Teenage years are filled with many milestones. One of most noteworthy milestones is when your teen starts driving. Teaching your teen to drive can be stressful for both parties, but it’s important to know that you play an important part in helping your teen become a successful driver.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), teen drivers ages 16 to 19 are three times more likely to be involved in a fatal car accident. To help your teen stay safe behind the wheel, teach and enforce the following safety behaviors:

  • Always wear a seat belt. Each person riding in the car should buckle up. According to Safe Kids Worldwide, more than half of teens killed in car crashes weren’t wearing their seat belt.
  • No texting and driving. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reports that texting while driving increases the risk of a crash or near crash by 23 times. Also, make sure you lead by example. If you text and drive, your teen will think it’s okay for him or her to do the same.
  • Limit the number of passengers in the car. Too many passengers increase the likelihood of distractions in the car and can double or even triple the risk of a crash.
  • Never drive under the influence. Drugs or alcohol should never be allowed in the car. Let your teen know that if they are ever under the influence of drugs or alcohol, he or she should call you for a ride and should never get behind the wheel.
  • Obey the speed limit and all other traffic laws. More than one third of teens killed in crashes were speeding.
  • Practice driving in a variety of weather conditions, especially nighttime driving. Teens face triple the risk of a fatal nighttime crash compared to adults.

One way to help enforce these safety measures is to create a teen driving contract. The contract should clearly state expectations and guidelines, along with consequences if the contract is broken. And again, lead by example or he or she many not take your rules seriously.

Encourage your teen to practice driving as often as possible to help them gain the valuable experience they need to become safe, responsible drivers. If you find that your teen needs more time behind the wheel to practice, don’t push your teen to get a license if he or she is not ready.