“You need to slow down.”
“Okay.” I feel like I can’t breathe. Who knew it was so hard to coordinate your right foot and keep a vehicle in one lane with both of your hands, all at once?
More distress in my mom’s voice now. “Madison, slow down!” I gently begin pressing down on the brake, getting ready for a left hand turn. “I am, Mom,” I say absently.
“SLOW DOWN!” Anddddd….unlike the graceful left turn I was expecting, the tires squealed as I careened to the left onto a residential street. Huh. I guess Mom was right. I was going too fast for that turn.
I pulled over, mortified and with misty eyes, wondering if I couldn’t make a simple turn, how would I ever learn to safely drive? But if you think about it…
Teenagers learning to drive are common on the road.
Although I was sure back then that nobody was having as hard a time learning to drive as I was, teenagers are learning to drive every day in California. Excited, nervous, or overconfident, thousands of kids ages 15 to 18 are learning the rules of the road. They begin in the classroom, then they’re on the roads, highways, and freeways in Murrieta, Temecula, and everywhere else you can drive a car.
If you’ve ever been the parent desperately stomping on the emergency brake like my mom, you probably have lots of feelings and questions about teen driving. The most important question is undoubtedly:
“How do I keep my child safe while they learn to drive?”
The fact is, learning to drive is a dangerous time in a teen’s life. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for kids and young adults ages 14 through 18.
So what can you do to make learning to drive safer for your teen?
NHTSA says just 25 percent of parents have a serious talk with their kids about the key components of safe driving. So, talk about it.
Luckily for you, we’ve got some talking points ready!
Here are five recommended rules to spell out before your teen gets behind the wheel:
1. Absolutely no alcohol.
There is no legal limit for alcohol when it comes to teen drivers. Having any amount of alcohol in their system is illegal for all those under 21, everywhere. On average, according to the NHTSA, 25 percent of deaths in motor vehicle crashes involve a teen driver with a blood-alcohol content of .01 or higher.
2. Seat belts required.
Drivers and passengers ages 16 to 24 historically use seat belts less often than other groups. Let teens know that seat belt use is non-negotiable. It’s the easiest way to protect themselves in a crash. And, set a good example by buckling up yourself.
3. Never speed.
Teenagers may like to push the limits, but the road isn’t the place to do so. Speeding doesn’t simply put them at risk for a ticket. It increases the risk of a deadly accident as well.
4. No calls, no texts.
It’s never a good idea for anyone to call or text while driving, but, because teens lack experience behind the wheel, distracted driving is all the more risky. Reaction times are slower when someone is distracted. Even worse, sending or reading a text means a driver’s eyes aren’t on the road.
5. Only one passenger (or zero, depending on your state’s licensing guidelines for young drivers).
As the number of passengers rises, so does the risk of a fatal crash, the NHTSA says. Think back to when you were a teen driver — how different were your actions when you had friends in the car versus when you were alone?
Remind them, driving is a often considered a “right of passage” in the journey from a child to an adult. But also remind your teen,
Driving is a privilege…
…and that you’ll take away the keys if they don’t drive safely. Continue having regular conversations about driving safety to ensure the lessons don’t fall by the wayside. Soon, you’ll have another trusted and responsible driver in the family – maybe even one that qualifies for a car insurance discount.
And if you have a question about your teen driver and your policy,
Ask us any questions you have about your insurance.
Depending on your insurance provider, the requirements about teen drivers vary. After your teen passes the written examination and before they get behind the wheel with their learner’s permit, give us a call. Some carriers require the learning driver be added to the policy; others add the driver after they are licensed. Make sure you and your teen are covered before you hand them the keys!
Have a teen that will begin driving soon? Give us a call at (951) 296-6678, come and visit us in our office, or send us an email at Insurance@QuoteToWin.com.
Until then, have a safe drive!
Adapted from a Safeco Blog post from October 2014.