As the parent of a teenager, you likely already have a laundry list of concerns, from curfew and alcohol to dating and more. Unfortunately, a new survey may have just given you yet another thing to worry about, if you hadn’t already: teenage driving safety. While you might think that with experience comes wisdom, this is apparently not the case for many teen drivers as, according to research, their driving habits grow more risky — not less — as they age.
The good news is that there are things you can do to help encourage your teen driver to be more careful on the road. Of course, no matter how well you train your teen to drive safely, this doesn’t mean other drivers (teenaged or not) will do the same. Regardless, the better prepared your son or daughter is, the safer the road will be, both for your child and for other drivers.
The older the teen…
A new study conducted by Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) and Liberty Mutual Insurance found that the older and more experienced teenaged drivers get, the more overconfident they become in their abilities. Unfortunately, this misperception of their “skills” seems to have the opposite effect on safe driving behavior.
Almost 60 percent of high school seniors experience accidents or near-misses compared to only 34 percent of sophomores, but this may be at least partly due to the fact that almost 70 percent of 15- and 16-year-old drivers say their parents would revoke driving privileges in the event of an accident, while 55 percent of teens over the age of 18 believe their parents would invoke the same punishment. Additionally:
- Up to 75 percent of seniors feel confident in their driving abilities but are likelier to engage in risky behaviors.
- Approximately 70 percent of seniors are more likely to use their phones while driving.
- Only 55 percent of younger teen drivers admit to the same phone usage while driving.
When it came to app usage while driving, statistics showed a similar correlation with teens as seen below:
- Seniors — 67 percent admit to using apps at least sometimes.
- Juniors — 58 percent admit to using apps occasionally.
- Sophomores — 49 percent admit to some app usage.
Worryingly, other dangerous, behind-the-wheel behaviors appear to become more prevalent as teens grow older, too, including speeding and drowsy driving.
So what’s a parent to do?
Thankfully, there are a few things that parents — the key influencers in teens’ driving behavior — can do to help encourage safe driving techniques, including:
- Setting expectations by discussing what you expect from your teen driver, whether it’s a teen driving contract or just frequent conversations about important safety issues you expect your son or daughter to follow.
- Practicing: Almost 40 percent of teenagers say that their parents stop driving with them after they have their license, but you can continue to drive with your teen to help remind him or her of prudent methods.
- Holding each other accountable by making yourself follow the same important safety rules as your teen, from obeying the speed limit to refraining from phone use.
Some families choose to reward their teens for safe driving, whether it’s a break from a specific chore or a $10 gift card for consistently avoiding tickets and accidents. Whatever methods your family decides are right for you, what matters most is a safer driving experience for everyone.
Where to turn if your teen is a victim in a car accident
Regardless of how safe your teenage driver becomes, almost all roads and highways across New York are filled with potential dangers. In the unfortunate event of your teenage driver being involved in an accident caused by negligence or dangerous behavior by another driver, there are resources readily available to help you. After these unfortunate situations, you have the right to file a civil claim against the at-fault party for damages that can help cover medical bills and other losses.