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For many parents, handing over the car keys to their teenage children leads to feelings of apprehension, especially those first few times. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that motor vehicle crashes are the main cause for teen deaths in this country; the teen fatality rates are three times more than for older drivers.
Once school lets out, the summer months present more driving opportunities, and teens must be experienced and prepared for unforeseen circumstances that can occur while they are driving. With teens driving to their summer jobs, weekends away, and driving at night, the roads can become quite dangerous for these young drivers. Though every new driver is required to pass written and road tests, extra support and practice can be helpful.
In order to instill safe driving habits in their teenage children, parents should be closely involved throughout the driver education process. This is key to decreasing the risk of accidents during the summer and throughout the year. Even though they are at the age when they relish their freedom, teenagers are still influenced by their parents and will absorb this useful knowledge.
Each state has its own set of teenage driving laws. Many have a Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program, which eases them into full driving privileges. They start with a learner stage, which entails supervised driving before their driver’s test; intermediate, where some unsupervised driving permitted; and full privileges with a standard driving license. Parents should familiarize themselves with these stages. GDL laws also include restrictions such as limited driving hours, number of passengers in the vehicle, and cell phone usage.
Parents should also consider the type of vehicle their teen will be driving. A large truck or powerful sports car may not be the right choice; something smaller and closer to the ground is more manageable. Drivers should also understand the basics of vehicle maintenance, such as checking tire pressure and fluids. Cars can overheat in high summer temperatures or break down, which can be problematic if the teenager is far from home.
The importance of wearing a seat belt cannot be stressed enough. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drivers wearing seat belts reduce their chances of getting seriously injured in an auto crash by half. There are also new technologies that parents can use to monitor their teen’s driving behaviors, including driving speeds and locations.
Teenagers are faced with endless distractions when driving, especially in the summer. The necessity of keeping cell phones turned off, music turned down, and having other passengers stay calm should be reinforced. Reducing the amount of night driving is also important, since that is when a large percentage of teenage driving accidents occur.
Parents should also remember to strongly discourage driving under the influence and speeding, while encouraging a respect for other drivers who share the road. Naturally, parents should also set a good example by exhibiting these safe behaviors themselves.
Parents need to be especially vigilant when their teenagers start to drive, and we can help if you or anyone in your family needs a qualified Wilmington car accident lawyer. Call Rhoades & Morrow at 302-427-9500 or complete an online form today for a free consultation. Located in Wilmington, Milford, and Bear, Delaware, we serve clients throughout the state, including the areas of Elsmere and Seaford.