Good parents dedicate themselves to raising happy, healthy and well-adjusted children who will go out there and positively impact the world as an adult. It involves years of triumphs and setbacks, some that are predictable and some unexpected. One rite of passage for many children (and their parents) is driving, including learning how to drive, doing it on their own and getting their own car.
Teen drivers are already a high-risk group and Southern California’s complex roads and traffic volume make it a challenging place to drive, making it doubly stressful for the parents. Teens also have a higher rate of fatal crashes, mainly because of their immaturity, lack of driving skills, and lack of experience. Moreover, they often drive too fast, make mistakes, and easily get distracted by their device, especially if they have friends in the car.
Parents can take action
Parents can impose several important ground rules. Whether the young driver follows them is up to them, but the parents can be clear about their expectations and what the state guidelines dictate:
- Set special rules: Parents know their kids best, and legal guidelines may not be enough. So, parents can set limits that further minimize the teen driver’s risk.
- Drug and alcohol use: Of course, it is illegal for people under 21, and there are limits for drivers but remind them of the dangers of engaging in this risky behavior.
- Distractions: One-third of teens admit to texting while driving, which is likely low. Using a device can increase the risk of a collision by 23-times. They may also try to talk on the phone, eat, drink, apply makeup or adjust interior settings while driving.
- Teach them: Driver’s education does not end with the class, and parents can use real-life situations as teaching moments that will refine their new skills.
- Set an example: Driving should not be a “Do as I say, not as I do” situation. Good driving habits can rub off.
It may not be enough
Defensive driving skills and safe driving habits go a long way towards arriving at destinations safely. Unfortunately, there are tragic stories each year of innocent teen drivers getting severely injured or killed by other reckless drivers who should know better. Whether the negligent was distracted, driving too fast or under the influence, parents have the unfortunate right to hold the negligent responsible for their actions.