Tips for parents: Encouraging safe teen driving

Teen drivers are involved in accidents in Pennsylvania every day. According to a 2013 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, teens account for only seven percent of the population in the U.S. but contribute 11 percent of the total costs of motor vehicle accident injuries. Sadly, motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for people aged 16-24, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

Since teens are often more likely to get into a car accident within their first few years following licensure, parents may have warranted concerns about the safety of their child. By following certain guidelines, parents may be able to help their teen become a safer driver and reduce his or her accident risk.

Prevent distraction

Distracted driving is an issue all drivers face. For this reason, parents should encourage teens to turn off their phones completely while driving. For teens, the temptation to answer calls, look at text messages or check out a friends' update on social media is too hard to resist. Shutting off a cell, or at least blocking notifications and updates, can help a great deal to prevent distracted driving.

Passengers are also a leading cause of distracted driving accidents for teens. Teens with a junior license are prevented from having teenage friends as passengers for the first six months. After six months, parents may still wish to restrict the number of passengers their teen can have in the car at one time.

Commit to safety

While learning to drive and after licensure, parents should ensure their teenage driver is committed to safety. Cars come with many safety features, but reckless driving is still a threat. Having an upfront conversation about the risks of distracted, drunk and reckless driving is important.

Additional guidelines

In addition to making safety a priority and avoiding distraction, there are other rules parents should urge their teenage driver to follow:

  • Do not rush to the destination. It is better to be late than to drive unsafely to get there.
  • Driving at night poses a new set of challenges. Try to avoid nighttime driving situations if possible. By state law, teens driving with a junior license must not drive after 11 pm and before 5 am.
  • Refrain from drinking and driving. Not only is this activity highly dangerous, but it could have devastating life consequences, including criminal charges.
  • Driving under the influence of drugs can be just as dangerous as alcohol. It is important to tell your teen that driving high is no safer than driving drunk.

Contact an attorney

There are many good teenage drivers. Unfortunately, even the best drivers cannot always avoid an accident. Those harmed in a car accident caused by a negligent driver should reach out to an attorney in Pennsylvania for help paying for medical bills and other costs associated with an accident.