Parents, Do You Know Who Has the Most Influence on Your Teen Driver?

The answer may surprise you, but the people who bear the most significant impact on a teen’s driving are his or her parents.

The question is, then, how does a parent best use that power? Let’s take a look at the areas where parents can put into place strategies that have been shown to save the lives of teen drivers.

Key Risk Factors for Teen Drivers

  1. Inexperience

Because the first year is the riskiest for teen drivers, parents need to continually create opportunities to teach their teen driver. Teens need to spend at least six months practicing driving before they are allowed to drive on their own. Make sure that this practice takes into account how driving changes throughout the day or during different weather conditions. Furthermore, teach teens how to be aware of pedestrians, cyclists, other vehicles, and even roadway debris.

  1. Teen Passengers

Many states’ graduated drivers licensing rules often prohibit teen drivers from having more than one teenage passenger. If your state doesn’t have a similar prohibition, consider implementing this rule yourself and maintaining it for at least half a year.

  1. Driving After Dark

Driving at night increases the risk of death for all drivers, but teens are at even more risk. Reduce the risk by not allowing your teen to drive at night until you have practiced with them. Then, institute a curfew for night time driving if this is not already a requirement of your state’s GDL system.

  1. Not Wearing Seat Belts

All things being equal, wearing seat belts is the single greatest way to reduce risk of death in car accident. Require that your teen wear a seatbelt on every car ride, whether they are the driver or passenger. (Ideally, this habit should be acquired through childhood, but it’s never too late to start.)

  1. Driving While Distracted

In 2015, distracted driving accounted for more than 3,000 deaths and almost 400,000 injuries. Come up with strategies for how your teen will avoid using mobile devices, talking on the phone (even hands free), eating and drinking, and other distractions while driving.

  1. Driving While Sleepy

New research suggests that driving when you’re drowsy can be as dangerous as driving while intoxicated. Limit driving in the early morning or late at night, and take care to know when your teen is unusually tired.

  1. Reckless Driving Behavior

Discourage your teen from using a vehicle to engage in risky behaviors such as racing, peeling out, or other acrobatic car behaviors. Furthermore, impress up on them the need to maintain a safe distance between other vehicles, motorcycles, and bicycles in case of the need to stop suddenly.

  1. Driving While Intoxicated

Communicate to your teen that having even one drink can increase his or her risk of dying in a motor vehicle accident. Every US state has laws prohibiting teens from having any level of alcohol in their blood while driving, so impress up on them that there are legal and financial consequences to driving while impaired.

Addressing these eight risk factors will go a long way to ensuring that your teen’s risk of injury or death from a motor vehicle accident is reduced. Consider using the CDC’s parent-teen driving agreement contract to set expectations for your teen’s driving behavior.

Concerned About Teenage Drivers? You Should Be and Here’s Why

Usually, being a helicopter parent is frowned upon. Kid’s need privacy and independence, right? There is one exception to this though.

Teenage driving.

When it comes to teenage driving, most parents aren’t worried enough.

Nichole Morris, a researcher with Human FIRST Laboratory says that “the most dangerous two years of your life are between 16 and 17 and the reason for that is driving”. For this age group, motor vehicles account for more deaths that suicide, cancer, and other accidents according to Dr. Morris. Our roads have gotten safer, cars have gotten safer, but teen drivers have not.

According to AAA, just under one million teenage drivers were involved in accidents in 2013 alone. This resulted in 373,645 injuries and nearly 3,000 deaths. The CDC says that on average, 6 teens die each day from motor vehicle injuries.

Charlie Klauer, a research scientist at Virginia Tech Transportation Institute says that the real numbers may actually be higher since many accidents are unreported Dr. Klauer says “we believe 1 in 4 teens is going to be in a crash in their first 6 months of driving”.

How do we address this issue? There is no easy answer, especially in a world where technology is so prevalent. When asked what parents should be most worried about, Dr. Morris said, “other passengers”.


Dr. Morris says that adding just one nonfamily passenger to the car increases the rate of teenager driver crashes by 44% and adding a second passenger doubles that rate. Three or more passengers causes the rate to quadruple.

In most states, there are restrictions on the number and type of passengers during the early phase of a driver’s license. Most parents, however, do not enforce the rule after this time period.

Dr. Morris says that parents should make this a rule and continue to enforce it, even after the state restriction ends. She believes that passengers are a bigger threat than cell phones. Friends can encourage the driver to speed or participate in other dangerous behavior.

Cell Phones

Cell phones are still a very big problem. Turning off notifications may help. During her studies, Dr. Klauer has shown that teenagers continue to text, talk, and check social media while driving even when they knew they were being watched and recorded.

Keeping the cell phone in a bag or pocket doesn’t help either. The notifications are too hard to resist. She suggests turning off all notifications before you start the car, so that you won’t be tempted to check the phone.

Two Second Rule

If your teen must use a cell phone for navigation, it needs to be in a dock, on the dashboard at eye level. Not in the cupholder, their lap, or the passenger seat. This could cause the teen to take their eyes away from the road for longer than 2 seconds and this is extremely dangerous.

Road Conditions

While technology has introduced new threats to driver safety, the old ones are still there. Drinking and driving, driving at night or in bad weather are all dangerous situations. Safety experts say that driving at night is much more dangerous than driving during the day and the Transportation Department says that in 2013 almost one third of teenage drivers killed in auto accidents had been drinking.

AAA recommends that teens not be allowed to drive between 9pm and 5am until they have had a license for at lest 6 months, longer if the parents feel it is necessary. We also encourage you to speak to your teens about the dangers of drinking and driving and encourage them to call you and ask for a safe ride, rather than risk a crash.

Vehicle Safety Features

Teenage driver deaths have been declining in recent years. Specialists agree that this is because of improved safety features on roads and in vehicles though, not due to improved teenage drivers. Automated breaks, better airbags, lane departure warnings and forward collision warning systems have definitely helped. Despite the cost, parents should consider the benefits of getting as many of these safety features as possible

Get Involved

The researchers truly believe that parents are not doing enough to supervise their teenage drivers. Studies have shown that chances of crashing are lower when the parent is involved in the learning process.

Ask your teen questions, give them opportunities to drive on different types of roads, in different conditions and most importantly, supervise them. It is ok to trust your teen, but if you aren’t involved and aware of their behavior, they are probably not driving as safely as they should.

Bottom Line

We encourage you to be a helicopter parent during these years. Pay attention, be aware, get involved, and talk to your teen about the risks associated with driving. It may help keep them alive.


10 Safe Driving Tips

The Top 10 Safe Driving Tips

Car safety and safer roads, combined with decades of public information on safe driving have helped to greatly reduce the number of car accidents, but these numbers could still decrease.

Here are the top ten tips for safe driving to keep you, and other people on the road, safe.

10) Don’t Drink and Drive

This seems like a given, but each year over thirty percent of auto accident fatalities involve a driver who was under the influence of alcohol. Those deaths could have been prevented.

Even at low levels, intoxication lowers inhibitions, affects decision making, and reduces reaction time and coordination. At higher levels, alcohol can cause blurry or double vision and even loss of consciousness. Driving under the influence of alcohol is illegal as well as dangerous. Don’t do it.

9) Obey Speed Limits

Speeding puts you at a greater risk for accidents. Studies have shown that you are 4-5% more likely to crash with every mile per hour your drive. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that over 31% of fatalities were speed related crashes. That’s a lot of lives that could have been saved by obeying the speed limit.

8) NO Distractions

Distracted driving is dangerous. This includes using your cell phone, adjusting the radio, eating or applying makeup while driving. Many states have laws against distracted driving. These distractions interfere with the driver’s attention, causing slowed reaction times which leads to deadly crashes.

7) Don’t Drive while Drowsy

Some studies have shown that 20% of accidents have a drowsy driver as a factor. Even being a bit sleepy can increase your risk of accidents. Some drivers report falling asleep at the wheel. Driving drowsy could lead to disaster.

6) Buckle Up, Every time!

You have heard it a thousand times. Seat belts save lives. It’s true. When worn properly, seat belts protect you during a crash. The prevent you from being thrown around inside the vehicle or ejected during a crash. NHTSA statistics show that more than 50% of all accident fatalities were people not wearing a seatbelt. That number is staggering. Buckle up, and make your passengers do the same.

5) Be Cautious in Hazardous Conditions

Rain, snow, fog, sleet, and icy roads all present dangerous driving situations. Always be cautious in these conditions. Drive slower than the speed limit, maintain a good distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you, and always take extra precautions during curves on the road.

If you are uncomfortable in the driving conditions, ask someone with more experience to drive, or find a safe place to wait out the storm. If you ever lose visibility of the road and end up in the ditch, turn off your vehicle lights. Other drivers may use your lights as a guide for where the road should be. If they don’t realize you are stopped, and off the road, a collision could occur.

4) Avoid Tailgating

Keeping a safe distance between your car and the one in front of you can help you avoid collisions. This extra space gives you time to react if the car stops or turns suddenly. Experts recommend using the “three second rule”.

The three second rule works like this. Find a stationary object on the side of the road, like a sign or utility pole. When the vehicle ahead of you passes the object, begin counting seconds. You should get to at least three seconds before your car passes the object. As you gain experience, this will become natural and you will be able to maintain this safe distance without having to count.

3) Pay Attention to Other Drivers

No matter how safely you drive you always have to pay attention to other drivers. You can obey all the laws and still have someone crash into you. The only real way to handle this is to be prepared for anything. Expect sudden stops, swerving, tailgating, unpredictable or unsignaled lane changes and turns and every other bad driving behavior you can think of.

There is no way to list them all. Common examples would include: be prepared for other drivers to not stop at a stop sign, even when you have right of way. Don’t trust turn signals when you are pulling out into oncoming traffic. Always remember to check your mirrors and be away of what is happening in front of you and on the road around you.

2) Defensive Driving

Can you think of a time when another driver made you really angry? Maybe they cut you off on the freeway or drove too close behind you. This is considered aggressive driving and it causes accidents.

Defensive driving means staying calm during frustration traffic issues. Aggressive drivers may use rude language and gestures, tailgate, honk, or flash their lights. Staying calm will help prevent accidents in these situations. It may also help save you money since some insurance companies give discounts to drivers who complete a defensive driving course.

1) Maintain Vehicle Safety

Maintaining your vehicle is important. It helps to extend the life of the vehicle, but it also keeps your vehicle safe. Most states require an annual safety inspection, but it is important to maintain the vehicle in between inspections.

A common issue is improper tire pressure. Tire pressure that is uneven, too high or too low can cause a blowout which could cause an accident. It is important to keep this checked and maintain a correct tire pressure.

Another essential aspect of your car’s safety is the breaks. If you notice any issues at all when breaking, you should have your breaks checked by a mechanic as soon as possible.