It's the moment that every parent dreads – no, not their darling child's first heartbreak. Hard as that might be, it is an unavoidable rite of passage to adulthood. No, it's that moment that your beloved child finally gets to drive solo in their first car. There will be many a sleepless night to follow as mom and dad question each other: Will she drive safely? Is he ready? Have we told him all he need to know about distracted driving?
The National Safety Council feels your pain. As they say, “A teen's biggest threat is sitting on the driveway.”
In a bid to reduce the horrifying numbers of young adults that are injured and killed on the roads every year they have created and curated a wealth of resources that might help you, as a parent, prepare your child for a lifetime of safe driving. Here are a few of the highlights but please do take a moment to browse through the NSC's excellent teen driver pages and make use of both the Parent Teen Driver Agreement and the Digital Driving Coach that you will find there.
Teen Crash Risks
From: National Safety Council Teen Driving pages.
- After going from supervised to unsupervised driving, they are 30 times more likely to be in a crash
- Car crashes are the number one killer of teens
- A teen's risks of being in a car crash is highest when they first get their license
- The risk of death increases by 44% with one young passenger, doubles with two young passengers and quadruples when carrying three or more young passengers.
- More than 33% of young male driver fatalities involve speeding
- Almost 20% of 16 and 17 year old driver fatalities involved alcohol
- More than 50% of young adults killed were not wearing seat belts
- Texting while driving increases likelihood of an accident by 800%
Inexperience is a Killer
An obvious problem with teen drivers, yet one that is tricky to address is their inexperience. How can you help your child gain the experience he or she needs to gain experience of various driving conditions and situations without exposing him or her to danger?
Drive It Home is a National Safety Council initiative designed by and for the parents of newly licensed teen drivers. It offers free resources in English and in Spanish to help teens build experience and become safer drivers. It is also a place parents can share their ideas for keeping teens safe behind the wheel.
State Level Teen Driving Awareness
The shocking numbers of teens and young drivers who are killed or injured on our roads is recognized as a national problem. Each state addresses the problem in its own way with laws and recommendations specific to young and inexperienced drivers. Here are a few examples.
Driving with Passengers
First 6 months: No passengers under 20 years old, except for immediate family members (spouse, child, stepchild, or siblings, both by birth and marriage).
Next 6 months: No more than 3 passengers under 20 years old who aren't members of the immediate family.
For the first 12 months, no driving between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. unless with a licensed driver 25 years or older. The only exceptions are driving for agricultural purposes and transporting farm products or supplies under the direction of a farmer.
No cell phones
Not permitted to use wireless devices while driving, even with a hands-free device. This includes talking on cell phones and sending or receiving text messages. You may only use a wireless device to report an emergency.
These restrictions do not apply after the driver turns 18 years of age.
Getting the license:
Teen drivers under 18 must have an instruction permit for at least six months and be able to certify that they've had at last 50 hours of supervised practice with a supervising driver who is at least 21 yo and have had a valid license for at least 3 years.
Then, teen drivers need to complete an approved driver training course or complete an additional 50 hours of supervised driving practice
After the license:
For the first 6 months after getting the license teens can't drive with a passenger under the age of 20 who is not an immediate family member
For the second 6 months teens can't drive with more than 3 passengers under the age of 20 who are not immediate family members
For the first year, teens may not drive between midnight and 5.00 am unless they are:
- driving between home and work
- driving between home and school event for which there is no other transportation
- driving for employment purposes
- accompanied by a licensed driver who is at least 25 years old
Stay off the phone:
Under Oregon law, drivers under 18 may not operate a vehicle while using mobile communication devices for either texting or talking (including hands-free devices)
Driver Safety Programs May Lower Insurance Bills
As kids grow toward adulthood every parent must prepare for the day they leave home with a mixture of pride and trepidation. We want our children to leave the nest on strong wings but we also want them to be safe. Supporting your child's wish to drive encourages independence but ensuring that they learn defensive driving skills encourages responsibility. Instilling safe driving skills also has the added benefits of ensuring you have fewer sleepless nights and a lower insurance bill.
In a Fortune article titled, 5 secrets to save your teen on car insurance, in which Jean Chatsky discussed student insurance discounts, she wrote:
Discounts vary by state. At Allstate they go as high as 20%, but average a 10% off says Herndon. Typically, you need at least a B average or better to qualify. At other insurers, the discounts can go even higher. And while you're talking to your insurer, ask about other discounts specific to your company. Liberty Mutual, for instance, offers a discount for taking an online driver safety program as well as signing a safe driver contract with your teen.