Car accidents are the leading cause of death of US teens, according to the CDC. While some car crashes are simply unavoidable, many are caused by driver inexperience and bad driving habits–like texting while driving. In order to help keep our community’s teens safe, our Bloomington, IL car accident lawyers have compiled some of their top safety tips for parents to help prevent teen car accidents.
Tips for Keeping Teens Safe From Car Accidents in Bloomington
If you have a teenage drivers, make sure you keep these safety tips in mind:
Follow Your State’s Driving Laws
State laws vary on driving permits and graduated driver’s license rules. For example, in the state of Illinois, there are nighttime driving restrictions for drivers age 16-17 and for the first 12 months of licensing, the number of passengers in the car is limited to one person under age 20. That means no late night drives home from parties or driving multiple teenage friends. When setting house rules for your teen’s driving, keep these in mind.
Enroll Teens in a Professional Driving School
Rules of the road may have changed since the time you first learned how to drive. To make sure your teen is up to date on today’s laws and recommended best driving practices, it’s a good idea to enroll them in a professional driving school so they can be taught by instructors who know the ins and outs of today’s roads. Who knows, your teen may even end up teaching you a thing or two you didn’t know!
Create a Parent-Teen Driving Contract
As a parent, you may have more strict requirements on your teenager’s driving than the State of Illinois. We recommend writing these rules down on a sheet of paper, and having your teen sign that they acknowledge them, like a contract. This can include things like the hours they can use the car, how often, and who is responsible for gas money. It can also include a section that reinforces safe driving habits like: always wear a seatbelt, no driving after 10PM, no texting, no eating/drinking, no driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and so on. Have your teen sign this contract as an oath that they will abide by the rules and practice safe driving habits. Display it somewhere in your home so they can be reminded of it.
Talk About The Risks of Impaired Driving
According to the CDC, one in ten high school teens drinks and drive. While this statistic has gotten better in recent years, it’s still an alarming number. Even if it’s uncomfortable to talk about, or you don’t believe your child is drinking or using drugs, it’s imperative you still have the conversation about the risks of driving while under the influence of drugs and alcohol. The more we talk about this problem with our kids, the more likely they are to follow the rules.
Help Eliminate Driving Distractions
Cellphones, snacks, rowdy passengers, playing with the radio–there’s a lot that can overwhelm a teen’s attention span and distract them from the road. Distractions greatly increase your teen’s risk of being in a car accident. Help eliminate these distractions by setting rules that forbid your teen from engaging with these distractions while driving. There are also apps on their phone you can install that prevent phone use while driving.
Monitor Your Teenager’s Car Use
Just because you told your teen to not exceed the speed limit doesn’t mean they aren’t speeding. There are a few car monitoring apps available that allow parents to monitor speed and your car’s location from a distance. But if those seem too excessive to you, you can do simple things like checking the odometer for distance traveled, checking the car for any signs of damage, and simply having a conversation with your teen. Ask where they went, what roads they took, if they had any driving complications, and if they have any driving questions.
Be a Good Driver Role Model
Sure, you can tell your kids the rules of the road and good driving safety tips, but if you don’t practice what you preach, your teenagers will surely brush it off. If you tell your teenager not to use their cellphone while driving, but still take calls or text while they’re in the car with you, you’re sending mixed messages. In order for the message to sink in, follow the above safety tips, too. Setting a good example of safe driving will show kids that if you’re taking safe driving habits to heart, they should too.