shutterstock_343961714_9mkUSRH.jpeg (shutterstock_343961714.webp)As summer comes to an end, you might be gearing up to hit the road with your teen. This is an exciting and pivotal time in your child’s life. It is important that you teach your young one safe driving practices so you feel confident when they drive on their own.

The best way to feel secure while your kids are out on the road is to know you’ve taught them all they need to know to stay safe. We’ve compiled a list of 5 safe driving tips to teach your teen:

  1. Always Wear A Seatbelt

    While it may seem like a no-brainer, many teens do not buckle up before they hit the road. According to the CDC(opens in a new tab), teens and young adults often have the lowest seat belt use rates.

    Wearing a seat belt can save your child’s life - without it, they can be thrown from the windshield in the event of a car crash. It is imperative not only that your teen buckles up, but that they make sure anyone in their car is also wearing a seat belt.

    Even if there is no car crash, your teen can still receive a ticket or citation for not wearing a seatbelt. Failure to wear a seatbelt is a traffic violation that could result in fines, points on their license, and even affect your family’s insurance. Make sure that your teen understands the consequences of affecting their driving record and insurance so they can better avoid it.

  2. Remove All Distractions

    According to the NHTSA(opens in a new tab), most car crashes occur due to distracted drivers. Distractions of any kind - texting, eating, noisy passengers, and more - will put a driver in danger. Make sure your teen knows to minimize all distractions before they begin to drive anywhere.

    Your teen’s phone is most likely going to be the biggest risk of distraction. Instruct your child to put their phone on “Do Not Disturb” and set it down for the remainder of the drive. If there is an emergency phone call, they should safely pull to the side of the road to take it.

    If your child practices keeping their eyes on the road, they’ll be safely cruising in no time.

  3. Become Familiar With The Car

    It is a big help for your child to be familiar with the car they are driving. As a teen is learning the ropes of the road, taking away the stress of being in a new vehicle will help them in their learning process.

    Instruct your child to read the owner’s manual before operating the vehicle. After they have done that, you can sit in the car with them while it is parked and show them all of the controls before they drive. You can repeat this procedure every time you practice so that they remember.

    Remember to practice in the same car each time you take your teen out driving. When they are comfortable with the way their car works, the way their seat sits, and more, they can focus on the road in front of them.

  4. Drive at a Safe Speed and Distance

    It is important to be sure that your child is not speeding, as this can put them in danger. When they speed, they lower their ability to control the vehicle’s movement, making it more difficult to stop. Speeding results in multiple fatalities every year in car crashes.

    Speeding is not only dangerous, but it also can have legal repercussions. Your teen could end up with a speeding ticket, higher insurance rates, and even suspension of their license.

    Another thing to be aware of is the distance your teen keeps from other cars. According to an NHTSA study(opens in a new tab), rear-ending is one of the most common car collisions, accounting for about 29% of all traffic accidents. It is important to monitor the amount of space they have in front of them if another driver makes an abrupt stop.

    Not only is your child’s safety in jeopardy when they rear-end someone, but the blame is also legally theirs. For rear-end collisions, all drivers are required to maintain a safe distance between their vehicle and the one in front of them so that they can slow or stop quickly if necessary. Because of this, the driver in the rear will almost always be presumed to be the at-fault driver. To avoid injuries and legal issues, be sure your teen is cognizant of the space between them and other vehicles.

  5. Don’t Drink and Drive

    Finally, the most simple, yet most important safety precaution of all: Under no circumstance should anyone drink while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Every day, 29 people die in crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver.(opens in a new tab)

    Your teen must never get in the driver’s seat when they’ve had anything to drink. You should also inform your teen not to get into the car with anyone who has been drinking.

    Often, teens choose to drive home drunk or get in the car with someone inebriated because they are afraid to tell their parents that they drank alcohol. While you should encourage your child not to engage in underage drinking, you should let them know that they can trust you to pick them up if it does happen.

    Also, be cautious of any prescription or over-the-counter medications your teen is taking, especially when they are new or a dose is changed. Some medications, such as antihistamines and prescription pain or anxiety medications can cause sedation or impair your child’s reaction time.

As you teach your child to drive, be sure to have an open dialogue about the real dangers of operating a vehicle. While there are risks, it is also an exciting time in your teen’s life as they have gained some independence. Having a teenager who’s just beginning to drive can certainly be nerve-racking, but as long as you have taught them how to be safe and responsible drivers, you can rest assured that they’ll come home to you safely.

If your adolescent is in need of physical or mental health care, Capital Area Pediatrics offers top-tier pediatric care to families throughout Northern Virginia. Our dedicated team is committed to providing everything from learning and attention disorder services to sick visits. All of our providers and locations are accepting new patients and would be happy to reconnect with our existing families. Request an appointment online, or find a location near you today.