For parents, few days are as nerve-racking as the day that their teen begins driving. There are many good reasons for this. Teenagers don’t yet have fully developed brains, particularly in the prefrontal cortex, which controls decision making, appropriate social behavior, and complex cognitive behavior.
Luckily, there are steps you can take that leave you with more choices than “give your teen the keys and hope for the best” and “never let them drive.” Use these tips to keep your teen safe. If you do find yourself in a crash, turn to the team at Burns, Cunningham & Mackey for the help you need. Call us at 251-260-3815 to get started.
Be a Good Example
One of the best ways to encourage safe driving is to be a good example. If you tell your child to avoid distractions every time they are behind the wheel but text constantly while driving, what do you think they’ll actually choose to do when they are driving? If you tell them to leave plenty of space between cars and stay calm but ride someone’s bumper to keep someone from sneaking in and honk when they cut in anyway, what do you think they’ll do?
If you want your safe driving message to actually stick, you need to live it.
Create a Culture of Communication
If kids are in unsafe situations, it’s important that they feel comfortable asking you for help. Imagine, for example, your teenager ending up at a high school party. Under enormous peer pressure, they have two drinks and have to drive home. Would you rather have them try the drive, fearing your rage if they get caught, or reach out to you and ask for help? Mistakes do happen, and your teen should know that they can reach out to you for help before they unintentionally make the situation worse.
Set Clear Limits for Passengers
Passengers are one of the greatest sources of distraction for drivers, and especially for teens. Set firm limits beforehand and explain to your teen why they cannot have a car full of friends. This is where encouraging communication can be helpful. If your teen’s first instinct is to find a way to skirt the rules and not get caught, you’ll have a hard time enforcing this. If you have a relationship where they respect your rules even if they don’t like them, this will go much more smoothly.
Forbid Distractions and Find Ways to Enforce This Rule
Cell phones are extremely dangerous for teen drivers. As teenagers become more accustomed to driving, they may feel like it’s safe to text or check social media while they drive. Be a good example in this area. When you drive, make a habit of putting your phone in the lockbox or otherwise out of reach. If it makes you feel safer, look into apps and phone settings that prevent the phone from working while the car is in motion.
Consider a Speed Tracker
Speeding is, unfortunately, part of the teenage driving experience. However, speeding comes with serious consequences. Not only does your teen risk tickets, fines, and increases in car insurance, they could cause a serious accident. Some car insurance companies have widgets that you put in the car to track speeding, sudden stops, and other unsafe driving behavior. This allows you to keep track of your teenaged driver’s behavior.
Often, simply knowing that their parent is watching is enough to encourage teens to make safer choices. However, note that this type of device can also cause your car insurance to go up if your teen regularly engages in dangerous driving behaviors, so be ready to enforce consequences if that happens.
Reach Out to Burns, Cunningham & Mackey Today
No matter how careful you and your teen are, accidents do happen. When they do, you deserve legal representation that has your best interests in mind. We can help. At Burns, Cunningham & Mackey, we help accident victims get the compensation they deserve. Whether we can secure a fair settlement out of court or we have to fight for you in the courtroom, we’re ready. Schedule a consultation now by calling us at 251-260-3815 or reaching out to us online.