This week is National Teen Driver Safety Week, a time for parents and teens in Tampa to discuss the dangers and responsibilities involved with being a new driver. Although it can often feel like your teen isn’t listening to your worries and concerns, they do care, so it’s essential to take the time to speak about road safety, even if it isn’t always the most enjoyable conversation to have.
Some approaches, however, are better than others for discussing the dangers of drinking and driving, distracted driving, and other hazardous driving behaviors often seen among young drivers in Tampa. Rather than using frightening statistics or images to scare your teen straight, which is shown to be ineffective and overwhelming to teens, it is more helpful to empower your teen to make positive choices at the wheel and explain why road safety is important for everyone. Here are five talks you should have with your teen on National Teen Driver Safety Week.
1. Drinking and Driving
This is perhaps the most important conversation for families in Tampa to have with their teens, as Hillsborough County has the highest rate of fatal drunk driving accidents in the state in 2013, according to a report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Talk to your teen about the dangers of drinking and driving, especially for those who are underage and cannot legally drink. Even if your teen doesn’t drink, the risks don’t end there. Be sure to also tell your teen about the dangers of going into a car with someone else who is drunk and driving.
Above all else, have an open door policy. While you as a parent will not condone underage drinking, if your teen is worried about being driven by a friend who has been drinking, or they have been drinking themselves, they can call you at any time to be safely picked up. It’s better than risking their life and putting others on the road in danger.
2. Cellphone Use While Driving
Although your teen likely knows the dangers of using their phone while driving, it can be hard for them to resist the texts, photos, and videos they receive from friends while on the road. Speak with your teen and discuss empowering ways for them to reduce their temptations to text while at the wheel. Encourage them to turn off their phone while driving, or silence it, and stow it away in their bag, backpack, or glove compartment.
Alternatively, if they are driving with a friend or family member, that person can act as their “designated texter,” as recommended by the Central florida Expressway Authority’s campaign for safer driving.
3. Wearing Your Seatbelt
Putting on your seatbelt seems like such a simple way to stay safe in the car, and yet teen drivers and their passengers use their seatbelts far less than drivers over the age of 20, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association’s “Getting It To Click!” report.
Speak to your teen about how easy it is to stay safe by buckling up, and how by doing this simple act, they can be a positive role model to their friends and family members who ride with them.
4. Driving the Speed Limit
Speeding can seem cool to teen drivers, but that speeding is a lot less fun when it results in a speeding ticket, a revoked license, or worse yet — a serious accident.
Even speeding “just a few miles” over the limit can have consequences. Explain to your teen how in Hillsborough County, speeding just 6-9 mph over the limit can result in a fine of $118, and speeding 15-19 mph over the limit can result in a fine of $243. That can take a long time to pay off for the average teen.
As a parent, model appropriate driving behaviors to your teen, and don’t speed when they’re in the car with you. Explain the importance of leaving early so there is no need to rush and speed on the way to work or school.
Lastly, discuss speed management in road conditions that could be extra dangerous, such as rain, darkness, or curving roads. While a teen may not be intending to speed, they could drive faster in these conditions than a more experienced driver would. A good driver knows when to lower their speed to get to their destination safely.
5. Limiting Passengers
It seems harmless, but teens who drive with all of their friends in the vehicle are put at a major risk of dangerous car accidents. In fact, the accident rate among teen drivers doubles when the number of passengers in the car increases from two to three, according to Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
Even the most responsible teen driver can become distracted when chatting to all of their friends in the car, so it’s important for you as a parent to enforce passenger limits. Tell your teen driver how important it is to limit their passengers to just one or two at a time, not just for their own safety, but for the safety of their friends.
But Accidents Still Happen
Unfortunately, accidents can still happen even to the most responsible and careful teen drivers. If your teen was hurt in a car accident due to the negligence of another driver, we may be able to help. Read more to learn how our attorneys in Tampa will fight on your behalf with the insurance company to get the compensation your family deserves. If you are ready to pursue a claim, fill out our free, no-risk case evaluation form today.