Summer should be a time of swimsuits and sand. Unfortunately, for many teens, summer can lead to an increase in car accidents. Car accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers, and distraction is the most common cause.
With more time on their hands, many teens hit the road. Driving to friends’ houses, the beach, and the movies may seem routine, however, summertime is the deadliest time for teen drivers. Whether it’s driving with more people and distractions in the car, driving while tired, or driving unfamiliar routes, teen drivers are at a greater risk for a fatal accident between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
To combat the rise of teen accidents during the summer, it’s important that parents have a frank discussion about driving and set some ground rules before handing over the keys. Here are some tips to pass along to keep your teen safe this summer.
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1. Limit passengers.
Teens may be pack animals, but that doesn’t mean the whole crew should travel together. Having more passengers in the car means more distractions. This can cause problems for a newer driver who feels like they have to talk to their passengers or feel included in what the passengers are doing.
2. Talk about alcohol.
We all know that teens shouldn’t be drinking. Unfortunately, there’s a chance that your teenager may be tempted to experiment with alcohol during the summer. Whether a friend’s older sibling scores her some beer or an unlocked alcohol cabinet provides temptation, it’s important that our teenagers understand the risks of drinking and driving. Speak about expectations and let your teen know they should never drive under the influence. If for some reason they have succumbed to peer pressure or temptation—or if their ride has—let them know it is always better to call you for a ride than to drive drunk or get in a car with a drunk driver.
3. Set rules for phone use.
Smartphones are the biggest distraction for all drivers. Interacting with a smartphone requires one’s hands, one’s eyes, and one’s mental resources. That means for the amount of time it takes a person to check a text, they’ve completely turned their attention away from the road. Talk to your teen about appropriate cell phone use in a car but don’t stop there. It’s important to model appropriate phone use in the car as well. Let your teen know that it’s never ok to check their messages when driving and that a notification can wait until they reach their destination.
4. Know their destination.
Ask your teen to let you know where they’re headed and with whom. If they’re headed somewhere new, discuss their route. While smartphones are great with all their mapping programs, relying on one for directions can make driving more dangerous. If your teen needs to use a GPS or their phone, show them how to set it up so they will not need to touch it while they are driving. Have them verify that they can easily see and hear the directions without taking their eyes off the road.
5. Set a curfew.
Driving at night is more difficult than driving in the daylight, even for adults. In Florida, teen drivers have graduated licenses with curfews to help them get appropriately accustomed to driving during the night. However, it is up to parents to decide whether they want their teens driving around certain hours. Creating rules regarding night time driving that helps your teen get used to the limited visibility is important.
Our teens need our help in making smart decisions. By having frank discussions about difficult issues, we can provide them with the tools they need.
If your teen has been injured in a car accident and you need assistance dealing with the insurance agency, call us today for information about how Winters & Yonker can help.