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Auto accidents are the number one killer of teenagers—more than illness, violent crime, suicides, recreational accidents, even drugs and alcohol.

Talking to your teen is the first step in working towards a safe driving experience as they venture out with this newfound privilege. There’s no doubt about it; when parents become directly involved with helping their teens to learn and understand the importance of safe, responsible driving, something truly wonderful occurs. The chance for injuries and deaths dramatically decreases and the confidence and comfort in parents to allow their teen to drive increases. In fact, the more you communicate a consistent message to your teen, the safer it becomes for everyone. As a parent, your influence can literally be a lifesaver…both your teen’s life and the lives of other drivers. Below are some tips we’d like to share with you.

  • Safety in seatbelts. Wearing a seatbelt can mean the difference between life and death in an auto accident. Statistics show that 50 percent of all teens who died in car crashes last year were not wearing their seatbelts. Always insist your teen wear their seatbelt and anyone else riding in the car with them.
  • Remind your teen that driving is a privilege, not a right. Be prepared to take away the keys if your teen abuses his/her driving privileges.
  • Restrict night and weekend driving to specific hours. Statistics show that teens crash more often after 11 p.m. on weekdays and after midnight on weekends.
  • Make sure your teen knows that it's okay to call you if they are in trouble and needs a ride home. Let them know that you will not be mad, but rather relieved that they trusted you to come get them so that they remained safe.
  • Have your teen drive a set number of hours (30-60) with you before they get independent privileges with driving the car. This will help you to learn about their weaknesses and teach them to improve on them.
  • Drive with your teen occasionally after they have achieved their independence from an adult driver. This will help you to feel more comfortable with their driving and lets them know that you really do want them to be a good driver.
  • Talk to your teen about car insurance, tickets, accidents, etc. Most teens don’t realize the dollar amount associated with driving incidents. Talk with them about the expense and how incidents can affect that expense and therefore their driving privileges.
  • Restrict the number of passengers in your teen's car. Statistics have shown that the more friends your teen is carrying, the greater the risk of an accident.
  • Limit teens' driving during peak accident season, which begins in the summer when your teen gets out of school, and runs through Labor Day weekend.
  • Bottom line…Always be a good role model. Wear your seatbelt, never use your cell phone while driving, and don't be an aggressive driver.