Teaching teens to be safe drivers
We'd love it if our kids would do only what we tell them to do, but the reality is that they're much more likely to do what we do. And when it comes to driving, a new study shows we're not setting a good example. Is your behavior upping your teen driver's risk of an accident?
You load the kids in the minivan and pull out of the driveway. As you set off down the street, you load up the DVD to occupy the toddler, take a call from your spouse and find out the soccer game has been moved to a different field. You don't know how to get there, so you plug the address into your GPS. Just another day -- just another parent driving while distracted.
Sobering statisticsLiberty Mutual Insurance surveyed parents and released some disturbing numbers this summer. Just under 70 percent of parents of teen drivers -- and a full 75 percent of fathers of teens -- report practicing at least two dangerous or distracting behaviors while driving, and nearly half (49 percent) do at least three.
Start the conversationFortunately, it's never too late to make a change -- you can start right now, by sitting down with your teen driver and talking about safe driving habits. Establish rules, and ask your teen to help you police yourself. Make it clear that it's not just about talk on your part -- commit to your own safety and that of your kids.
Working the numbersMany parents do take some precautions with their teen drivers. Over 80 percent of moms and dads set curfews for nighttime drivers. Whether or not your state sets such laws, it's a good idea to establish a curfew for our own young driver. You can also join the 80 percent of parents who don't let teens use cell phones or other electronic communication devices while driving. But remember: if they see you do it, they'll think it's okay.
Really: Don't text while you drive
For more on kids and driving:
- Keys to the wheels: Safe driving tips for teens
- Safety tips every parent should know
- 10 Tips to establish rules for your teen