Tragically, 16 year-old Mikie Monroe and 17 year-old Shelby Bockting, both of Spencer County, died after a car crash involving three teens who lost control of the car they were riding in during early January. The only survivor was 16-year-old Jenna Rigsby. One news report indicated that the girls were not wearing seat belts.
By all accounts, the three girls were well-liked and will be greatly missed. It is when parents hear reports like this that they grow even more concerned about their own teens who are or soon will be driving. According to TakeTheWheel.net, car accidents are the number one cause of teen death in the United States. The fatality rate is highest in the first six months after a teen receives a driver’s license. This is typically attributed to inexperience.
While it is impossible to control every situation and tragedy sometimes strikes no matter how well you prepare, there are a few things you can do to make driving a bit safer.
According to All State, teens have the lowest percentage of seat belt use among all drivers, yet wearing a seat belt can reduce the risk of fatality by about 45%. The best thing to do is to teach your chid early to wear his seat belt. By establishing a habit early on, your teen is more likely to continue this habit on into the teen years and adulthood. Take the time to talk to your child about the statistics and your concerns for her safety.
Driving Alone for the First Six Months
The majority teen accidents occur during the first six months of driving, insisting that your child not take on passengers can reduce the risk of an accident. Some states, such as Indiana, now mandate that no passengers are allowed except for immediate family and adults until the driver has had his license for six months. Many teens ignore this rule, so it is up to parents to help enforce it.
Consequences for Speeding
Parents are going hi-tech and keeping track of their children’s whereabouts and driving habits. GPS devices show where the car is and even track speed. Those with an iPhone can sign up to get an alert if the child is speeding. Don’t violate your child’s trust by putting the GPS on the car without telling him. Instead, be honest about why you’ve installed the device, such as to protect the child in the case of an abduction or to ensure they are driving at a safe speed so you know they are less likely to get into an accident. Also, be clear about what the consequences will be if the child is caught speeding or lying about where he is headed. For example, loss of driving privileges for one week.
Teens may respond with a “that’s not fair.” Simply remind the teen that you are not only concerned for her safety, but responsible should she get in an accident that injurs others.
Another way to avoid accidents is to minimize the number of distractions. Teens should not:
- Talk on the cell phone
- Have passengers who are shouting, acting insane or moving around inside the card
- Listen to extremely loud music
- Argue with siblings, boyfriend/girlfriend or parents
Set a Curfew
All State also indicates that most crashes occur between 9 p.m. and midnight. Setting an early curfew for new drivers can reduce the odds of a fatal crash. First trips should be during daytime hours and for short distances. As the teen gains experience driving, distance can be increased and eventually the teen can drive at night.
Even with all these precautions, there is the possibility that your child may still get in an accident. However, knowing the statistics and what you can do to improve the odds can give both you and your teenager some peace of mind during initial driving years.