Few things frighten parents more than when their child turns 16. This milestone birthday means their teenager is legally ready to get behind the wheel and on the road. Statistics say half of all teens will be involved in a car crash before graduating high school. Scarier yet, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens. Per mile driven, teen drivers ages 16 to 19 are nearly three times more likely than drivers aged 20 and older to be in a fatal crash. Regardless of age group, motor vehicle crashes are preventable, and there are strategies and rules parents can discuss with their driving-age children to improve safety on the road.
This one should be a given for all ages. In addition to being the surest way to protect yourself in the event of an accident, it’s also the law. Parents should discuss the importance of wearing a seatbelt with their teenagers, since research shows that seat belts reduce serious crash-related injuries and deaths by about half.
No Drinking & Driving
Drinking & driving is extremely dangerous and illegal. Even though teenagers aren’t legally allowed to drink, most parents aren’t blind to the fact that social situations involving alcohol happen often in high school peer groups. Make sure to talk to your teenager about avoiding situations where they may end up as a passenger in the car of a friend who drank alcohol. And, of course, talk to your teen about saying no to alcohol for their own safety and adherence to the law.
No Cell Phones
It’s no secret that teenagers are attached to their phones. They talk, text, use social media, and pretty much anything else you can think of on their smartphones. Did you know teen drivers are four times more likely than adults to get into car crashes or near-crashes when talking or texting on a cell phone? Stress to your teenager the importance of refraining from using their phones while driving. If your teen drives a car with Bluetooth capability, help them connect their phone to the system for the ability to be hands-free if a phone call must be made while driving.
Laws are in place for good reason, but they can only go so far in keeping your teenager safe on the roads. Setting firm rules with your teenager when it comes to driving can help bridge the gaps. Leading by example will make a difference as well — like making sure you always wear your seat belt if you expect your child to always wear theirs.
The Morrissey Law Firm, PC, is located in Springfield, Missouri, and focuses in personal injury and wrongful death trial work. If you need a personal injury or wrongful death attorney, please visit our website or call (417) 887-0529 to schedule a consultation.