As parents, we worry about our children. It comes with the job title. We worry about their safety on the internet and social media. We stress about how they will handle peer pressure and if they will make good choices. If we could die from worrying, I’m sure we all would when our teens start driving. I think it’s justified, though seeing as how motor vehicle crashes are said to be the leading cause of death for U.S teenagers. This concern is paramount, especially coming up on the end of the school year, beginning of summer and, of course, prom and graduation. Mercury Insurance has created a Drive Safe website, featuring tips and information that will help keep your teen safe behind the wheel, a drive safe contract, interactive quizzes and videos, car-buying and insurance tips and other helpful resources.
This conversation was sponsored by Mercury Insurance. All opinions are my own.
I know as a teen, I couldn’t wait to drive. That freedom and stature that comes from being able to drive yourself to school is every teen’s dream. Aside from keeping your teen away from the steering wheel forever, there are other ways we can keep them safer while learning to drive.
1. Driving safety phone apps. Phones are everywhere nowadays. As much as you want to be able to get ahold of your kids when you want them, you don’t want them texting or on social media when they’re supposed to be driving. Cell phone related crashes are on the rise. Most states have made it illegal to text and drive. There are many phone companies or apps that lock down the phone and send out a candid response to people trying to reach you, when your driving. Get one for your teen driver and they will never even notice their friends are trying to reach them until they arrive safely at their destination.
2. Set some rules. We all know how much teenagers love rules. There should be rules in place for them to follow if they want the privilege of driving, though. These will have to be made on a family by family basis according to your teen’s personality and family needs. Some rules may include no friends in the car or a set curfew. My mom used to say nothing good happens after midnight. My parents’ biggest rule was we had to keep our grades up to get that good student discount on our insurance.
3. Radio volume levels. I know when I’m driving and that great song comes on the radio, I start cranking up the volume. The dancing starts happening and singing also ensues. For someone who’s been driving a long while, it’s not such a big deal. Those teens that are new to the road and the rules may have a harder time rocking and “rolling” if you know what I mean. Set a nice volume level to help minimize distraction and keep their attention on the road.
4. Lots of practice before the license. Be sure your teen driver gets a lot of practice in before they are ready to go out on their own. They are required to have so many practice hours in before they can get their license anyway. I know it’s scary parents, I used to freak my mom out too, but they really need to be taught. You are the one that gets to shove your foot into the floor like there’s a brake in the passengers side while they do it. The more they practice and get comfortable with their abilities, the more you will also become comfortable in their abilities and will feel better when they are finally allowed out on their own.
5. Bluetooth stereos. If you want to be able to reach your teen driver at all times, look into getting a Bluetooth stereo system in their car. That way they can answer your call hands-free. This will help them keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road, but be able to keep you in touch with them at all times.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 2,525 teen drivers and passengers were killed in 2013. Of these fatalities, 20% occurred between April and June. This just happens to be the same time as proms and graduations. That is why May has become National Teen Safety Awareness Month and why Mercury Insurance has started the Drive Safe Challenge event.
With all of the end of the school year festivities happening, it is the perfect time to sit our kids down and talk to them about safety. We need to be sure to educate our kids and their parents about the balance between celebrating and poor decision-making involving vehicles. Mercury insurance is aiming to help you do just that with their Drive Safe Challenge interactive website and defensive driving program.
On the Drive Safe website, you will find tons of helpful tools to help shape responsible driving behavior. Your teenagers can take the road sign quizzes or review teen driving statistics. You can find some great car-buying and insurance tips and even find a driving contract you and your teen can sign. It can help set the rules of the road and outline ways in which their driving privileges would be lost.
It’s normal to worry about our kids’ safety and happiness. With all the things going on in the world and all the unknowns, it can be a scary place sometimes. If we take the time to teach our kids how to keep themselves safe and make good choices, we can have the peace of mind knowing that they will be doing all they can to stay safe too. So take some time during Nation Youth Safety Awareness Month and make sure to teach your teen about ways to stay safe at all their end of the school year celebrating.