Increasingly, when it comes to safe driving, teens and parents know that safety is no accident. That’s why a growing number of them are stepping up to sign an agreement that promotes better driving behaviors.
Unfortunately, numerous studies show that safe driving and teens don’t always go together. First-year drivers in particular pose a risk to themselves and to others. Drivers age 16 have double the crash rate that 17- to 19-year-olds do. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens. They claim the lives of seven teens daily, on average.
Teens are three times more likely than older drivers to be involved in fatal wrecks.
When it comes to the reasons behind these and other accidents involving teen drivers, distracted driving is a leading cause. Research by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia found that just three types of errors led to nearly 50 percent of all serious teen crashes: distracted driving, failing to see a hazard, and speeding.
With the growing awareness and focus on the problem of texting while driving, the issue of distracted driving and teens is taking on even more significance.
A Safe Driving Agreement
To address this problem, several safety groups are promoting programs where parents and children sign an agreement to avoid at-risk behaviors that can lead to accident and injury. Building on a written agreement developed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Accident Attorneys Organization crafted its own which can be found on its website. It also includes penalties for violating the agreement that both parents and teens agree to, such as loss of driving privileges for two weeks.
The agreement consists of a series of promises that both teen drivers and parents agree to follow, such as always wearing a seat belt and driving with both hands on the wheel. The fact that this is a joint agreement signed by both children and parents is key to its effectiveness because it attempts to reflect what really goes on behind the wheel.
Psychologists agree that clearly outlining the negative consequences of breaking an important rule increases the chances it will be followed. Once signed it’s recommended you tape it to your refrigerator.
We also want them to approach their kids in a way with this agreement that will help get them to get the kids to comply with the rules in it.
Alan Kazdin, director of the Yale Parenting Center says “If parents are looking for compliance, the primary thing is to frame rules properly and not approach children in an authoritarian mode, because that tends to set off oppositional behavior.”
If you want to be proactively involved in protecting your teenage driver, use the free parent-teen driving agreement you can download at www.accidentattorneys.org.
Perhaps even more important than a contract is setting the right example for our kids. A new survey found that 61 percent of teens said that their parents were distracted by their own phones at least once while teaching them how to drive. And parents aren’t arguing this fact. Fifty-three percent admitted to being distracted at least once while teaching their kids. If this is the case, what about those who have younger children? Will their kids grow up watching mom or dad text, talk on the phone, or be distracted in other ways and think it’s the norm?
Just the other day our daughter came home from school a bit shaken. A driver coming from her left ran a stop sign and nearly hit our daughter’s car on the driver’s side. Was the other driver distracted? Yes, she was on her cell phone.
We won’t always be in the car with our kids to make sure they drive safely. But we can set a good example, require a driving agreement, and stay involved. It would be tragic to have one of our teens hurt themselves or someone else—or worse—because they were distracted. Such tragedies are totally preventable.
Perhaps the only thing more challenging than parenting a toddler is parenting a teenager.
When kids are young, they challenge you by throwing tantrums when you won’t let them watch Dora The Explorer for ten hours straight. When they’re older, they scare you by throwing tantrums for similarly ridiculous reasons… and then getting behind the wheel.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens. They claim the lives of seven teens daily, on average. Teens are three times more likely than older drivers to be involved in fatal wrecks. In 2010, 282,000 teens (ages 16 to 19) suffered injuries that required ER treatment. The youngest cohort of drivers (ages 15 to 24) accounted for $19 billion in motor vehicle injury costs. That means that just 14% of the population accounted for 30% of all injury costs.
To address this epidemic, safety groups are promoting National Teen Driver Safety Week (NTDSW), which runs from October 20 to 26, 2013. The theme this year is poignant: “It takes two: shared expectations for teens and parents for driving.”
What Can You Do to Keep Your Son Or Daughter Safer Behind the Wheel?
Understand Who’s at Risk and Why
CDC statistics found that male teen drivers were nearly twice as likely as female counterparts to die in vehicle crashes. Newly licensed teens, and teens who drive with friends are also at elevated risk. A CHOP study found that just three types of errors led to nearly 50% of all serious teen crashes: distracted driving, failing to see a hazard, and speeding.
“Effective consequences are ones that are connected to the original behavior, and are both task- and time-specific” according to Empowering Parents.
According to About.com:
“Teenagers tend to think they are immortal and invincible. They also tend to be impulsive which is why it is very important to set rules that promote safety.
Once kids hit the teenage years, parenting becomes more difficult than ever. Normal teenage behavior includes rebellion by nature and there is the potential for more serious behavior problems. Despite their desire to be independent, teenagers require house rules to help them prepare for the real world.
Parenting teenagers requires a delicate balance of giving them enough guidance to ensure they are making healthy choices while also giving them enough freedom to make mistakes. Establish house rules that respect’s your teenager’s desire to be independent while also ensuring they are behaving responsibly. Clearly outline what negative consequences will be in store when a rule gets broken.