Your teenager has earned their driver’s license, hooray! However, before you hand over the keys, be mindful that the first six months after getting a license are the most dangerous times for any driver and risk remains high during the first year. Moreover, one in four crash fatalities in the United States involves a 16-to-24-year-old driver.
As a driver:
- Wear your seat belt and insist that passenters also wear theirs. In California, a peace officer has the right to give a driver a ticket if their passenger is not buckled up.
- It is ok to tell passengers, “Please do not distract me while I’m driving.” Research shows that a teen’s risk of being involved in a crash increases greatly with each peer passenger in the car.
- Pull over to use your cell phone or have your passenger answer it instead. Or, put your phone away to avoid temptation in using it.
As a passenger:
- Always wear your seat belt.
- Respect your driver. Be helpful by reading directions. Avoid talking loudly or playing loud music.
- It is ok to refuse to get in a car if you think it is an unsafe situation. Develop a code word. Calling or texting your parent with a previously agreed-upon code word that signals trouble can help teens get out of an unsafe situation.
As a parent:
- Get involved! Involved parents who set rules and monitor their teens’ driving behavior in a supportive way can lower their teens’ crash risk by half.
- Know the law. In California, drivers must be at least 16 years old to be eligible for a provisional driver’s license. There are special restrictions and requirements for drivers under 18.
- Be a good role model. Do not talk or text on your phone while driving. Make sure you are not speeding or tailgaiting.
- Create a “Passenger Agreement” with your teen. By setting clear expectations, a Passenger Agreement can help reinforce key behaviors that keep teens safe as passengers now and as drivers later.
For more tips for your teenage drivers, please click on these helpful CHOC resources: http://blog.chocchildrens.org/tips-for-teens-to-avoid-distracted-driving/
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