A teenager's life is greatly altered once they obtain their driver's license. The freedom to drive themselves wherever they want gives them their first real feeling of independence. However, young drivers are at most risk in the first few months of obtaining their provisional (P1 / Red P) license.
Unfortunately, 17-25 year-olds account for roughly 20% of all road fatalities and land transport accidents are the second biggest cause of death for young people in Australia. The reasons behind this vary from inexperience behind the wheel, having multiple people in the vehicle, being side tracked by their phones or drink-driving. This makes young people as one of the most high-risk motorists out of any age bracket.
However, as a parent, you can greatly reduce the risk of accidents and it is your responsibility that you ensure your child is developing safe driving habits. To help you with that, here are some handy ideas that can lower the risk of accidents for young drivers:
Choosing the Right Car
(photo by Yonkers Honda, via Flickr)
A teenage driver looking to purchase their first car should be accompanied by their parent to ensure they make a smart and informed purchase. When selecting a make and model, convenience and safety should considered over style and performance. This means that Sportscars, large SUVs and utes/trucks should to be avoided. The important factors to consider are security, fuel consumption, price and reliability. However, the most important factor is safety, especially if you're purchasing a used car. The car should be equipped with at least 6 air bags, outboard mirrors, and an automatic transmission. In addition, check the vehicle's accident record and service history.
If you're lending them the family car, remind them that borrowing the family car is a privilege and responsibility that should not be abused. The car is not theirs and they should treat it with the same care and respect as they would their own.
Enrol Them in a Safe Driver Program
Safe driver programs are readily available for all ages and can significantly lower the risk of accidents. The goals of safe driver programs is to help teenage drivers to develop proper and safe driving technique, how to limit distractions whilst driving and teach them the consequences if they break the rules. It goes without saying, these programs aim to help both the teenage driver and their parents. Safe driver courses can also be extremely helpful for young drivers on their learner’s permit, as the time spent in the course can be used to deduct hours in their log books.
Getting Rid of Distractions
Just telling teenagers to stop examining their phone while driving is inadequate. While many teenage drivers feel the need to examine their phone when behind the wheel, using a mobile phone while driving increases the risk of accidents four-fold.
Parents have one more option apart from having their teenagers turn off their phone completely or counting on state legislations to remind them to do so. There are also applications available that prevent people from using their mobile phones temporarily. A lot of these are free for both Android and iOS users.
Other distractions may be having several people in the car. Discourage having others in the car, particularly throughout the first year of driving, and only have teens slowly take other people they feel comfortable or adequate to have another person in the vehicle with them.
Remind Them that Drink- and Drug-Driving are a Lethal Mix
Substance abuse must to be avoided at all cost. Teenage drivers (especially provisional license holders) should not even take a sip of alcohol when they are driving. This does not imply you ought to entirely restrict them from hanging out with their friends, but it helps to go over the threats of driving under the influence. Parents may likewise agree to have them be picked up in case they feel unfit to drive.
Setting a Good Example
Parents should set a good example for their children. Even from a very young age, kids will imitate their parent, which can carry into their driving years. Being new drivers, they tend to copy whoever accompanies them at all times, so this could be a reliable method to teach how to act while behind the wheel. Simple things like using seat belts, obeying traffic laws and not succumbing to road rage will certainly be a large influence on teenage drivers.
Installing a GPS Tracking Device
Black Knight is a match-box sized GPS tracking device that can be installed in just about any vehicle. After a GPS tracker is installed in the car, parents can use the Black Knight app to keep an eye on their children at all times. The complicated part is usually presenting such a device to your teenage son or daughter as they most likely not be on board with the idea of having their personal privacy being seemingly "attacked" by their parents.
As parents, it must be stressed that these GPS devices are not minute-to-minute monitoring but are there in case of an emergency. Should the worst happen, you will at least know where their last known location was. Black Knight is also capable of setting speed alerts, which can notify you when their vehicle goes over a set speed, and also geofence alerts, which can notify you when their car has left a set area.
Parents should make it a goal to teach their teenagers to be extra cautious on the road as they pose as much of a risk to other as they do to themselves. Everything from their temperament and their logical thinking should be properly assessed before they take the wheel. Discuss the benefits of GPS tracking, and assure them that you will not impose on their privacy.