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Parents: Set the Rules With Your Teen Driver

Teen Driver
Every parent should talk to their teen about the rules of safe driving.

Learning to drive is very exciting for teens, and a driver’s license is a giant step toward independence. But when a teen driver is getting ready to hit the road, a parent’s job isn’t done. In fact, talking to your kids about the dangers of driving is one of the best things you can do to keep them safe. Tragically, many parents just assume their teens get this information elsewhere, so they don’t have the conversation.

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens 15-19 in America. In 2013 alone, 2,614 teen drivers were involved in fatal crashes, and an estimated 130,000 were injured.

Parents should talk to their teens about the rules of safe driving, but a recent survey shows that only 25 percent of parents have done so. It can be difficult to talk to teens about anything, let alone a serious topic like safe driving. Many parents don’t know what to say, or give up if they feel like they’re not being heard. In order to provide you with the tools, resources, and words you need to keep your teens safe, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration teamed up with state and local highway safety and law enforcement organizations on the teen driver safety campaign “5 to Drive”. The education and awareness campaign identifies the five most important rules all teen drivers need to follow.

Teen Driver5 to Drive

Get the facts and start talking to your teen about the “5 to Drive,” and Set the Rules Before They Hit the Road.

No Drinking and Driving. Compared with other age groups, teen drivers are at a greater risk of death in alcohol-related crashes, even though they’re too young to legally buy or possess alcohol. Nationally in 2013, almost one out of five (19 percent) of the teen drivers (15 to 19 years old) killed in crashes had been drinking.

Buckle Up. Every Trip. Every Time. Front Seat and Back. In 2013, of all the young (15- to 20-year-old) passenger vehicle drivers killed in crashes, 64 percent of all young passengers (13- to 19-year-old) of teen (15- to 19-year-old) drivers who died in motor vehicle crashes weren’t restrained.

Put It Down. One Text or Call Could Wreck It All.   This age group has the highest percentage of drivers distracted by phone use. In 2013, 318 people were killed in crashes that involved a distracted teen driver.

Teen DriverStop Speeding Before It Stops You. In 2013, speeding was a factor in almost one-third (29%) of the crashes that killed 15- to 20-year-old drivers.

No More Than One Passenger at a Time. Extra passengers for a teen driver can lead to disastrous results. Research shows that the risk of a fatal crash goes up in direct relation to the number of teens in a car. The likelihood of teen drivers engaging in risky behavior triples when traveling with multiple passengers.

Additional Resources

In today’s technological society, it has never been easier to access the wealth of resources available on how to have this important conversation. Below are a few suggestions.

I Know Everything. IKnowEverything is a comprehensive effort focusing on the issues of drunk driving and distracted driving. It reminds parents that they have the most impact on their teen’s driving behaviors.

It Can Wait. ItCanWait is a no-texting-while-driving campaign concentrating its message on today’s young drivers. The campaign promotes the deadly consequences of texting and driving and asks youth everywhere to share the message that any text can wait while driving. Parents can help support their teens in sharing this lifesaving message.

Teen DriverNot So Fast: Parenting Your Teens Through the Dangers of Driving. In his book Not So Fast: Parenting Your Teen Through the Dangers of Driving, Tim Hollister notes that: “For teens, the dangers start at “at risk” and go up from there.” He points to the inexperience of teen drivers as well as a number of other factors that come into play. Mr. Hollister uses both research and his personal experience to provide great information for parents and their role in supervising a teen driver and reducing the risks.

For more information about the “5 to Drive” campaign visit www.safercar.gov/parents.

Have A Conversation

Please take the time and talk to your kids—this week and every week—about how to be smart and safe behind the wheel.  How do you do it?

      1.  Start the conversation early.
      2. Set the standard.
      3. Get it in writing
      4. Spell out the rules.


You can make a difference in your teen’s life.  Do you have any suggestions on what has worked for you in having this vital conversation? Let me know in the comments below.

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