It’s an exciting milestone: your teenage son or daughter is driving! For your teen, he or she is excited about experiencing a new level of freedom, taking control behind the wheel, and entering a new phase of maturity. As a parent, your excitement may also be mixed with other feelings, such as worry and fear. Those mixed emotions could run the gamut, from I finally don’t need to be the chauffeur! to What if he or she gets in an accident? Gets a ticket? Gets lost?
So, as your child gets ready to take the family car out for a spin – alone! – be sure to impart the following teen driving safety tips to him or her:
Tip #1: Follow the Rules of Safe Driving:
Consider enrolling your child in driver safety classes and/or behind the wheel training (which is mandatory in some states). Even if your child has already taken classes in driver safety, it doesn’t hurt to reinforce the following teen driver safety tips, such as:
- Wear a seatbelt at all times. Don’t think that a quick trip to the neighbor’s house is a reason to skip the belt; many accidents actually happen within a 5 mile radius of the home!
- Keep your eyes moving and look ahead while driving. Deer crossing the road, a car suddenly stopping, a driver cutting you off . . . these are all common occurrences that new drivers don’t always anticipate. No matter how safe your son or daughter is as a driver, remind him or her that other people can sometimes cause accidents, too!
- Always leave yourself an “out” on a highway, in the event that another driver cuts you off, an accident takes place, etc. This goes back to the previous tip, since other drivers can create problems – not just the teen driver.
- Check your blindspots when preparing to change lanes. Some cars’ designs are problematic when it comes to clearly seeing cars in the right or left lane – even when using mirrors to check. A quick peek over the shoulder is imperative to eliminate the experience of not seeing a car because it’s in the driver’s blindspot.
- Follow the speed limit. Not only will this commonsense piece of advice eliminate the headache of receiving a speeding ticket, but keeping speeds down will reduce reckless driving that can create hazards to the teen driver and others around him or her.
Tip #2: Don’t Drink and Drive
Although your teen is not of legal drinking age anyway, the reality is that some teens do drink alcohol. As a parent, be realistic and have the difficult conversations about driving while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.
Some parents worry that they will be encouraging drinking, but this does not need to be the case. You can still make it clear that you don’t approve of underage drinking or drug use. At the same time, you’ll want to reassure your children that if they ever get themselves into a situation where they are under the influence, you would much rather have them call you for a ride, take an Uber, or simply stay put – than risking their lives and the lives of others.
Threatening to ground your child forever (or suffer some other extreme punishment) may simply cause certain teens to go undercover. And even the most obedient, well-behaved kids make mistakes at times, so don’t assume that your angelic son or daughter will never, ever slip up. Better to have an uncomfortable conversation now instead of putting him or her at risk of getting behind the wheel impaired.
Tip #3: Stay on Top of Car Maintenance – and Be Mindful of the Car Your Child Drives
Even if your teen follows all the rules of driver safety, that’s not going to help if you allow him or her to drive on bald tires, ignore oil changes, etc. While some families put the responsibility on the teen to maintain a car (and/or pay for the vehicle and insurance), it doesn’t hurt to periodically check on the car yourself to make sure that routine maintenance is taking place.
Do everything you can to ensure that your child is driving a safe, reliable car. Vehicles aren’t cheap, but remember that if your child breaks down on a deserted road at night, you could be putting his or her safety at risk. Whatever financial arrangement you have in this area, keep safety your #1 priority when making car decisions, as well as staying on top of the vehicle’s upkeep.
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Tip #4: Reduce Distractions
Make sure your child turns off the cell phone (or at least switches it into “do not disturb” mode) when he or she gets behind the wheel. Loud music and too many friends are other possible distractions that you want to be aware of as well. Remember that teens’ brains are not fully developed until they reach their mid-20’s, and that means they don’t always follow logic and reason.
As you may already be aware, they are not always the best decision-makers, either! In fact, even children who tend to be level-headed sometimes make unusually bad choices. Therefore, do whatever you can (ex – limiting number of friends your child can drive with) to reduce distractions for your teen and increase his or her odds of safe driving.
Tip #5: Give Your Teen the Silent Beacon Device and Free Safe Driving App
Silent Beacon has developed a no-distraction, one-button push for safety. The Silent Beacon is a small, Bluetooth-enabled personal safety device that allows your child to press a single button for help in the event of an emergency. The device pairs with the free safe driving app to summon assistance from emergency personnel, as well as alert friends and family to the emergency at hand.
When the user presses the button, the Silent Beacon pushes out alerts to the teen’s contact list via text message, a phone call, and/or email. First responders can pinpoint your child’s location with the gps-enabled device, saving precious time when responding to your child’s situation.
If your teen is preoccupied with appearance, no worries! The sleek Beacon, which comes in a variety of fashionable colors, easily slips into a pocket or purse. Or, your teen driver can clip the device to a keychain or lanyard. There are no ugly, clunky devices to lug around, so your child won’t mind carrying this extra layer of security wherever he or she goes. And at a price of only $99 for the device, the Silent Beacon makes the perfect gift (graduation, birthday, Christmas or Hanukkah, etc.).
Practice what you preach
Almost all teens will roll their eyes as their parents remind them of these teen driver safety tips. “I know, Mom!” or “I know, Dad!” is a familiar refrain for an age group that thinks they are invincible. But even if they don’t always listen to you, there’s a good chance they’re watching. So if you don’t practice what you preach, you run the risk of looking like a hypocrite. Or worse, your children may follow in your sloppy habits and put themselves at risk for being in an accident.
Remain consistent by following the same teen driver safety tips that you are asking your child to follow. Wear your seatbelt. Don’t ever drive if you’re under the influence. Keep your speed down. Put that cell phone down.
Of course, no matter how many tips your child follows, sometimes the unexpected happens. Kids get into accidents, whether they – or someone else – is at fault. Fortunately, if you arm your child with knowledge – and the Silent Beacon – he or she will never be alone. And that should give you, the parent, ultimate peace of mind!