Your child and Driving

Handing over the car keys to your young driver is one of the most difficult things you'll ever do as a parent. In many countries, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death of teenagers. In the United States, it accounts for nearly half of teenage fatalities.

How can you make your teenager a safe driver after they begin to drive? During the first few months of your teenager's driving, do your best to restrict the presence of other young people in the car. Many teenagers may drive safely when their parents are in the car, but crash rates increase dramatically when parents are not present.

Another source of car accidents and crashes is when the teenager has been drinking and using drugs. The likelihood of being in a car accident increases with every drink a driver takes. For inexperienced teenage drivers, the increases can be dramatic.

In some countries, teenagers drive at early ages, and drive a lot. Even a small amount of alcohol can impair a driver, regardless of how old they are. But, a young, new driver is probably more impaired than an experienced driver.

Phone Calls and Text Messaging

In some countries, text messaging and making cell phone calls while driving is illegal. For countries where it is legal, it is worth mentioning that recent studies show that drivers, particularly inexperienced drivers, who text on cell phone devices are at the same risk as drivers who drink. Tell your teenage driver to eliminate all distractions while driving.

  • Never under-estimate the dangers of drinking and driving, and drug use and driving.
  • Talk to your teenager about the seriousness of these dangers. Tell them that a driver doesn't have to be "fall-down drunk" to be at risk for causing a car crash.
  • Make a pact with your teenager for him or her to call you for a ride if they are too intoxicated to drive home, or if their friend has been drinking.
  • Share your concerns with your teenage driver. Reinforce the concern and remind them that the worry is not about them and their competence and ability but the problem of others and the influence others can have on them. Remind them that their brain development is at a stage where risk taking is often a high priority but making sound judgment is not!)