Keeping Your Teenager Safe Behind the Wheel
We all remember what is was like to be a teenager - getting the keys to your first car and pushing the limit to how fast you could drive. These days, teenagers not only have to face dangers like speeding and drinking and driving, but also texting and using their cell phone while driving. Keeping an open line of communication with your teenager about safe driving habits and setting consequences when expectations are not met are important in keeping your teenager safe behind the wheel.
Also, making sure they are prepared to handle any emergency from a fender bender to a flat tire will give you a little more peace of mind when you set your 16-year-old off on the road.
Sitting down and having an honest conversation with your teenager is a great way to start ensuring that they are using safe driving practices even when they are not with you. Let them know what you expect from them and if there will be any consequences if they get speeding tickets - even though their license will not get revoked after one ticket, that doesn't mean parents can't set their own boundaries and discuss what will happen if their teenager exhibits reckless behavior behind the wheel.
Someone I know recently installed a GPS tracking device in their teenager's car so they know where he is at all times. This device also tracks speed and sends updates via email to the user (aka parent) - while this may seem extreme, many parents are using this is a way to track their children's behavior behind the wheel and immediately address unsafe driving practices. It is up to you if you want to tell your child about this device or not, but in my opinion, it is best to be open and honest and let them know you installed such a device for their safety and protection - it also gives them an excuse to tell their friends why they can't speed ("OMG! My parents are so lame and totally installed a spy device. Bummer guys, can't speed!")
Accidents are exactly that - accidents. While safe driving practices will help make sure your child avoids any car accidents, there are times when other drivers might cause accidents or your teenager can't avoid them. In those situations, it is best to have your teenager's car stocked with all the essentials they might need in case of an accident or a car breakdown.
The LifeHammer works to cut seatbelts and break windows in case of extreme situations, but it is also smart just to have a basic roadside safety kit that includes essentials like emergency triangles and first aid supplies just in case.
Other car accessories could include a can of Fix a Flat, jumper cables or a portable jump starter in case of emergency. Make sure your teenager knows how to responsibly use these items before you allow them to use them in an unsupervised situation.
Talking on the Phone
Depending on where you live, there might be laws against teenagers using their phones while driving. But just like speed limits, teenagers are bound the test the limits every once in awhile. A good solution for talking on the phone could be the install a bluetooth system in the car that allows your teenager to answer and talk on the phone without some of the dangers of using the actual phone.
Using a bluetooth won't help with texting, but there are plenty of news article and evidence out there that show how texting reduces your awareness of the road and can lead to dangerous accidents. They say that texting and driving is even more dangerous than drinking and driving!! This is most likely because of the prevalence of the practice of texting. Most kids are taught that drinking is highly dangerous, but don't get the same education about how texting can reduce their ability to drive in a safe way.