Parent 2 Teen

It Can Wait

Remember how you used to “baby proof” your whole house when they began walking? Or how nervous you would get when they started climbing trees? Well your nerves are about to skyrocket, because now… they’re driving.

A 2009 National Young Driver Survey found that teens are 50 percent less likely to speed, 71 percent less likely to drive after drinking and 29 percent less likely to use their cell phones while on the road if they have parents who actively talk to them about the dangers associated with these behaviors.

As a parent, you have the ability to start conversations about safe driving habits with your teens early in their driving education. The trick to these conversations is to get your point across without sounding like nag or a worrywart.

How can you do that? Here are some quick tips to get you on your way:

  1. It’s best to set the ground rules early - even before your teen starts driving. One great way to do this is by having them sign a driving contract. The Teens Drive Smart driving contract requires your son or daughter to commit to being alert, vigilant and responsible behind the wheel.
  2. Combat texting and driving by leading by example. So, before you answer that text on the expressway think to yourself, “Would I want my son or daughter to answer this text while driving?”
  3. Consider having your teen share a car with yourself or one of their siblings before you let them go out and get their own car. According to a joint study from State Farm and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, teens with primary access to a vehicle are more likely to use a cell phone while driving and speed compared to their peers who share their car with another family member.
  4. Underage drinking is illegal and should never be condoned, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t talk to your teens about it. Make sure your teen knows that if he or she ever feels unable to drive, no matter what the situation, to always call you instead of getting behind the wheel or in another car.
  5. Just like texting, teens will learn the ropes about speeding from watching your habits. So, lead by example and keep to the speed limit.

Looking for more? To the right are some issues teens will inevitably face when they start driving, and some suggestions on how best to go about dealing with them.