In a few weeks, schools in Iowa will re-open and many teenagers will be driving to school for the first time. In Iowa, fifteen to twenty-four year olds make up 17 percent of registered drivers but are involved in 40 percent of all fatal or serious accidents. There are several risks for teen drivers that you need to discuss with them before they get behind the wheel. Follow these tips to make sure your teen stays safe:
Most serious teen driver crashes happen because they are inexperienced. The more practice your teen has being behind the wheel, the better off they will be. Ride with your teen often and see what issues they may be having. Offer suggestions on how they can improve their skills and help them practice.
Do you reach for things in the backseat while you are driving? Talk on your cell phone? Have the radio cranked up loud? If so, you’re not setting a good example while driving for your teen. All of these can serve as distractions while you are behind the wheel. Demonstrate good driving behavior by turning down the radio, putting the cell phone away, and keeping your attention on the road.
Passengers are some of the biggest distractions a teen driver can face, especially if they are the child’s siblings. For the first six months of driving, a teen should not have anyone but themselves in the car. This will limit their exposure to any distractions so they can practice driving. Exceptions for this rule include yourself or another responsible adult who may be riding with them to improve their driving skills.
The majority of teen drivers that are killed in car accidents crash during the nighttime. Young drivers are not legally allowed to drive by themselves during the hours of 12:30 AM-5 AM in Iowa. However, it can be dark as soon as 5 PM in the wintertime. Your teen should begin driving unsupervised during the day, in nice weather. They will need to practice driving at night and in rainy or snowy weather, but they should do so with you or another experienced adult in the car with them.
It is important you and your teenager discuss the ground rules for them driving a vehicle. These rules should include always wearing a seat belt, no talking or texting on the phone while driving, and no loud music or other distractions. If your child is experienced enough to be driving with passengers, make sure they know how many passengers are allowed in their vehicle while they are driving. Insist that they absolutely do not drink and drive – instead, encourage them to call you or catch a ride with a sober friend if they have been drinking.
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