The annual National Teen Driver Safety Week every mid-October cannot be any timelier, as reports show that car accidents remain the leading cause of death among Tennessee teenagers, ages 13 to 19. Distracted driving, speeding and intoxication are still significant risk factors that lead to crash-related teen fatalities.
Now more than ever, the Department of Transportation recognizes and reiterates that the purpose of the week-long awareness campaign extends to daily parent-child interactions related to safe driving.
Parents are the primary safety advocates
Parents are the first line of defense who can guard against their teen drivers’ hazardous habits or behaviors. They can do this through regular:
- Conversations: An open and honest dialogue sets the tone for how parents can reach out to their children. Teens are at a developmental stage where they can exercise a degree of independence while still trying to acquire the necessary skills. Parents can help them navigate without stepping on their newfound freedom.
- Practices: Parents can share their experiences given different scenarios. Teaching moments are pivotal, especially because Tennessee is one of the states that does not require new drivers to go through an education course.
- Demonstrations: Lead by example. Sound parental decisions on the road can spill over on teens’ judgment calls. Parents showing how cautious driving saves lives can motivate teens to be more alert when behind the wheel.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends accomplishing a parent-teen driving agreement to establish the rules, restrictions and penalties for road misconduct. Doing so can also show teens they are part of a meaningful cause toward road safety.
While these recommendations are not exhaustive, they provide a roadmap that parents can turn to as they train their teens to become responsible drivers.
Parents are not alone in the fight
Parents can find reassurance in knowing they are not alone in protecting their teens. Aside from law enforcement, schools and support groups also have programs to heighten awareness, vigilance and actions among teens and other road users. These collective efforts position teens for success on the road. When tragedy strikes, parents also have their legal representative as a valuable resource to establish liability and obtain the compensation they deserve.