Every young teen is anxious to get behind the wheel and experience that sense of unbridled freedom. But it’s the “unbridled” part that hast parents anxious in a whole ‘nother way. E3 Spark Plugs offers tips to help make sure your teen is really ready for the road and to keep teens safe once they’re licensed and on their way.
Most states license drivers at age 16. But that doesn’t mean that every 16-year-old is magically mature enough or experienced enough to properly handle driving on their own. While they have great reflexes, they have no frame of reference for making quick judgments behind the wheel. You know your teen better than anyone at the DMV, so only you can make the decision whether and when to allow your teen to be licensed.
The time during which your teenager has a learner’s permit is the perfect opportunity to help your teen learn the rules of the road, judge his or her abilities and know whether he or she is ready at 16. Have your teen log at least 30 minutes to an hour of practice each week, riding along on after-school activities and errands. If you live in an area that gets snow and iced-over roads each winter, this practice is critical. Locate an open, snow- or ice-covered parking lot and have your teen practice slow-speed maneuvers, hard breaking and steering in skidding situations.
Be clear that even after your teen is licensed to drive, the parental monitoring continues and that teens must abide by your rules or lose their driving privileges. Recommended rules include:
- A limited number of passengers in the car. It’s tough enough to keep eyes and mind on the road without all the laughter, chatter, music, food and other distractions that a carload of teens brings.
- Seatbelts for your teen and all passengers – no exceptions.
- No cell phone use or texting while driving. Driver distraction contributes to a full 25 percent of all police-reported traffic crashes, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and teens report texting as the number one distraction behind the wheel. Check out Allstate and singer Jordin Sparks’ “X the TXT: DSGN8 Before You Drive” campaign.
- Limited driving during high-risk times, including Friday and Saturday nights and early Saturday and Sunday mornings. Statistics show that the highest numbers of crashes occur during these peak times.
- No tolerance for drugs or alcohol. Legal ramifications aside, this should be a non-negotiable cause for any parent to revoke their teens’ driving privileges.
Many of us here at E3 Spark Plugs are parents too, so we can assure you that you’ll get some flak on a few of these issues. But keeping your teen safe is worth it. Do you have other advice for fellow parents? Leave a comment on our E3 Spark Plugs blog or Facebook fan page.