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Tips to keep your teen driver safe

For a teenager, there really is no better day than getting their driver’s license. And for a parent, it’s probably one of the worst days. Let’s list different emotions – stress, anxiety, worry, panic, fear…….. I honestly don’t think there are enough words for the emotions parents experience.

We have spoken to hundreds of teenage drivers and their parents over the years. So we’ve compiled that advice here with one goal in mind – to keep your teen driver as safe as possible.

Tips to keep your teen drivers safe

Know the law

Familiarize yourself with your state̵

7;s restrictions on young drivers and feel free to set tougher rules. To review your state laws, visit this resource that explains graduated licensing laws by state.

The Ohio BMV also lists the process and documents required to obtain a temporary permit at 15 1/2, as well as driving restrictions imposed.

It also outlines the process for obtaining the probationary license (under 18) and driving restrictions for the first 6 months, as well as at 12 months and beyond while you are still under 18. Personally, it’s super important to know these restrictions so you know what your child can and can’t do. And note that law enforcement can and will fine violations, with serious consequences.

Limit night driving for teenage drivers

About 2 out of 5 young driver fatalities occur between 9pm and 6am. The problem is not only that driving in the dark requires more skill behind the wheel. Late outings tend to be recreational, and even teenagers who usually follow the rules can be easily distracted or encouraged to take risks. Consider setting an early curfew for your teen, even if your state has a later one.

Limit passengers for teenage drivers

Teenage passengers riding in a vehicle with a novice driver can distract the driver and encourage greater risk-taking. While driving at night with passengers is particularly deadly, many of the fatal crashes involving teenage passengers occur during the day. The best policy is to restrict teenage passengers, especially multiple teens, at all times.

A note on both the night driving and passenger restrictions: while the Ohio driver’s license exam law offers its own restrictions (and penalties), it is worth considering imposing its own rules and penalties, even AFTER the state law has ended its requirements.

Educate them about driving according to weather conditions

In Ohio you CANNOT drive in December like you do in June. Snow, ice, rain, poor visibility – all make it a much more dangerous drive. But for some reason, young drivers think they don’t need to change their driving patterns regardless of the time of year. NOT TRUE. When it’s brutal outside, slow down. Give plenty of space to the people in front. Go early so you don’t have to rush. Know how your brakes work – remember that anti-lock brakes work very differently to traditional brakes – you don’t pump anti-lock brakes!

Enjoin safe behaviors such as seat belt use and no use of digital devices while driving

Don’t think I need to say much about using the seat belt. So do it.

As for digital devices, if you’ve only been driving for a few weeks, how can you pay attention to the road and change the CD and talk on your cell phone or send a text message? Simple – you can’t, so don’t even try. If you’re not paying attention to your driving, you’re just asking for trouble. The fact remains: younger drivers are simply less experienced at multitasking while driving and are therefore more easily distracted than their older counterparts. So teenagers need to pay attention to their driving. Leave the other things alone. PERIOD.

Prohibit driving after drinking alcohol or using drugs

Make it clear that it is illegal and dangerous to drive after drinking alcohol or using any other drug. More importantly, let your child know that he or she can call at any time to be picked up if alcohol or drugs are consumed. Any discussion on the matter will take place the next day. The point is to prevent your child from getting behind the wheel and hurting themselves or someone else. As much as we like to think “my child is an angel and wouldn’t do that,” it’s best to leave that door open in case there’s a temptation. It’s part of growing up – pushing boundaries and experimenting.

Consider a monitoring device

Different types of in-vehicle devices are available for parents who want to monitor their teens’ driving. These systems flag risky behavior such as speeding, sudden braking, abrupt acceleration and failure to use seat belts. Research shows that a monitoring device can reduce teenagers’ risks behind the wheel. Some insurance companies offer discounts for using one.

Choose vehicles with safety in mind

Teens should drive vehicles that reduce their chances of crashing in the first place and then protect them from injury should they crash. Larger, heavier vehicles are safer. Small and mini cars do not offer the best protection in a collision compared to larger vehicles. Avoid high-horsepower models that might encourage teenagers to take off. Look for vehicles that have the best safety ratings. Two must-haves are side airbags to protect people’s heads in crashes (standard on most 2008 and later models) and electronic stability control to avoid crashes (standard on 2012 and later models). Check out Insurance Institute for Highway Safety ratings for vehicles that are good choices for teen drivers.

Be a role model

Use your seat belt. Put your cell phone down when you drive. Drive according to weather conditions. Don’t drink and drive. Do not drive recklessly, proceed unnecessarily, or engage in any other risky behavior.

New drivers learn a lot by example, so practice driving safely yourself. Teenagers who have accidents and violations often have parents with similar driving records.

Set up a contract for teenage drivers

Searching the web I found an example and am including the link here for reference.

Center for Disease Control- Motor Vehicle Safety Driving Contract

The idea is simple – to hold your teen driver accountable every time they get behind the wheel. Some of the contracts even hold the parents responsible, which I think makes sense. These contracts are very specific about the rules for driving, what penalties are enforced if the rules are broken, and how much the teen will contribute to vehicle-related expenses. I think if you get a teenager to have some “skin in the game”, they will take the responsibility of driving more seriously.

Whether you use some or all of these tips, we’re here to help keep your teen driver safe. To discuss your teen driver and insurance policy, call us at (937) 592-4871 or fill out the form below.

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