According to the National Safety Council (NSC), automobile accidents are the leading cause of teen fatalities in the U.S., resulting in 44 percent of all teen deaths. But driving and insurance experts agree: parents play a big role in helping their teens stay safe. Short of accompanying their kids every time they get behind the wheel, what can parents do to protect their teen drivers? They can educate their teens about defensive and safe driving practices, monitor their driving habits, and oversee the condition of the vehicle their teen is driving.
The NSC recommends that teens drive slightly older, sturdier vehicles in good condition and equipped with safety features. Avoid vehicles with performance features that encourage more aggressive driving, such as turbo-charged engines.
Maintain a Safe Vehicle
Most teens don’t realize how important vehicle maintenance is. Parents need to make sure the vehicle is running properly, and show teens how to perform routine maintenance checks. In addition to routine oil changes, teach your teen to pay special attention to these items to keep safe:
- Tire condition – Make sure tires have good tread, especially in wet conditions.
- Tire pressure – Having the proper tire pressure is a crucial safety issue. Next to the brakes, the tires are the most important safety devices on your car. Incorrect tire pressure can compromise handling, braking, and stability. In the worst-case scenario, improper tire pressure can lead to tire failure – and a serious accident. Incorrect tire pressure also will affect your comfort, fuel economy, and tire life. Check pressure regularly, especially in colder weather. Check tire pressure when the vehicle hasn’t been driven and fill to the PSI levels listed on the tires.
- Brakes – Test brakes regularly. Educate your teen about warning signs, such as squeaking, the need to apply more pressure to stop, or longer stopping time.
- Windshield washer fluid and blades – A clean windshield increases visibility. Make sure fluid levels and wiper blades are adequate, especially during rainy conditions.
- Headlights, taillights, brake lights, and blinkers – Check to ensure they’re all clean and functioning. This increases visibility and can help avoid traffic citations or accidents.
It’s All About You
You’ve checked your teen’s vehicle for safety. You’ve discussed the rules, educated them about maintenance, and had the heart-to-heart conversation about drinking and driving. Now, don’t overlook the most important step that you need to take. Set a good example when you’re driving and set appropriate limits for your teen to ensure safe driving. Consistency, communication, and patience are the keys to keeping your teen safe behind the wheel. W