Traffic accidents are the number one killer of teenagers, and the fatality rate for teens is four times that of adults. The reasons: inexperience and poor judgment.
Driving becomes second nature, but only after hundreds of hours of experience. Because of this, it is critical that parents do their part in setting rules to keep their teens safe. Here are some tips:
1. Practice, Practice, Practice – Practice is the key to perfecting any skill. Pennsylvania’s Teen Driver Law requires at least 65 hours of practice before a teen can obtain a license, with 10 of those hours at night and 5 in inclement weather. Requiring your teen to actually drive these practice hours should help him or her achieve at least basic driving skills.
2. Consider Professional Training – Not surprisingly, teens tend not to respond well to instruction from their parents. It’s hard for them to believe their parents know anything. That being the case, parents should consider professional training (Driver’s Education or a driving school) or training from someone else in their family, like an aunt, uncle or grandparent.
3. Weather and Nighttime Driving Restrictions – Until your teen has significant skill and experience, having weather and nighttime driving restrictions are probably a good idea. The extra challenges of driving late at night or in bad weather are good to put off for a while.
4. Passenger and Other Distraction Rules – Pennsylvania recently passed laws limiting passengers for new drivers and outlawing texting while driving. Make sure your teen follows these laws, and consider instituting stricter rules yourself. Multiple passengers are extremely distracting to new drivers. Other deadly distractions include any cell phone use (even hands- free), loud music and eating or drinking while driving.
5. Require Seatbelt Use – Seatbelts are arguably the most effective safety device ever invented. Pennsylvania law requires that seatbelts be used. If you ever catch your teen not using a seatbelt, the penalty should be swift and severe.