Keeping Your Teenage Driver Safe

by : gregchapman

Your child has just become a teenager and is already behind the wheel. This can be the most frightening part of a parent's life. According to data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, car crashes take more young lives than all other causes--and in larger proportion than for any other driving age group. And most of the fatal crashes and serious injuries come in the very earliest months of unsupervised driving. But you can help keep these statistics from affecting your child by simply offering them some basic driving rules.

1. Help your teens develop the right habits especially during the first six months of solo driving. Let them know right away these are the rules:

&bull Use of safety belts is mandatory.

&bull Teen passengers won't be allowed initially.

&bull Night driving will be limited.

&bull Don't drive when you are drowsy.

&bull Distractions (e.g., text messaging) are prohibited.

&bull Speeding must be expressly prohibited. Since most new drivers don't have the experience to handle vehicles at high speeds, it's the source of many deaths and injuries.

&bull There will be no alcohol or drug use.

2. Set a good driving example in the way you drive:

&bull Wear your safety belt always.

&bull Don't speed.

&bull Practice defensive driving.

&bull Don't use your cell phone.

&bull Don't run red lights.

3. Develop a parent/teen driving contract. An example is available from the National Safety Council at agreement.pdf. Many states also have sample agreements.

4. Plan to provide your teen with extra practice time in a variety of weather conditions so he or she can gain experience and confidence. If you live in a climate where the winters are challenging, make sure your teens vehicle is up to par. Here are some things you can do:

&bull Winter weather puts your vehicle's mechanical systems and performance to the ultimate test, and demands that your vehicle is in excellent condition. Make sure that your tires and all mechanical systems, including your brakes, are in top working order.

&bull Take your new driver to a vacant, snow or ice covered parking lot where you can safely practice slow-speed maneuvers.

&bull A novice driver's first on-the-road experience with winter-weather driving should not be during a major blizzard. Ensure he/she waits until conditions are less severe.

&bull If possible, have your teenager practice driving on slippery roads in daylight only. Exposure to slippery roads at night should be limited until beginners have gained more experience driving in various types of winter weather.

&bull Maintain a safe driving distance from the vehicle in front of you.

&bull Make sure the speed limit is observed and respected.

&bull Transform the trunk of your vehicle into a winter survival kit by filling it with essential emergency equipment including a flashlight, blankets, jumper cables, sand and a small shovel or ice scraper.

5. Reinforce state graduated licensing programs so teens must have a longer period of supervised driving and more restrictions in the early months.

This is a just a short list, but with your reinforcement, a little time spent with your teen driver might protect your child's life and at the very least keep their insurance rates from going through the roof.

About the Author: Greg Chapman of Greg Chapman Motors is a knowledgeable and leading provider of used cars, trucks, and SUV's. Since 1959, Chapman motors has supplied reliable used cars in Austin and the surrounding area. For more information please visit>