Here’s How to Keep Teen Drivers Safe Behind the Wheel

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Safe Kids Washoe County has a simple message for parents: Now is the perfect time to have a conversation with teen drivers about smart strategies for staying safe behind the wheel.

Motor vehicle crashes remain the leading cause of death for American teens and are most often the result of inexperienced teen drivers taking risks. So Safe Kids Washoe County urges teens and their families to discuss smart strategies for staying safe behind the wheel.

What are the common risks associated with teen driving behaviors?

  • not buckling up
  • texting
  • driving with teen passengers
  • speeding
  • driving under the influence
  • driving in the dark

“Every year more than 2,000 teen drivers are involved fatal motor vehicle crashes, most of which are caused by inexperience on the road,” said Katie Metz, Safe Kids Washoe County. “Time and again we hear stories about teens whose inexperience, when combined with unnecessary risk-taking — like not wearing a seat belt — results in tragedy.”

Safety Tips for Teen Drivers

Safe Kids Washoe County recommends the following top driving safety tips for teen drivers.

  1. Talk to your teens about how to be safe while driving. Remind teens to follow traffic signals and laws, make eye contact with pedestrians, and enter and exit driveways and alleys slowly and carefully.
  2. Make a formal agreement with your teen and enforce it. A 2016 research report by Safe Kids Worldwide showed that formal parent-teen agreements regarding driving restrictions help reduce risky driving, traffic violations and crashes. Download a sample family agreement.
  3. Let your actions speak as loud as your words. Kids are always watching, even when you think they’re not. So set a good example when kids and teens are in the car. If you buckle up, they are more likely to buckle up; if you text and drive, so will they; and if you speed, they will speed.
  4. Ensure your new teen driver gets at least 50 hours of experience under a variety of driving conditions. Having more experience behind the wheel helps new drivers manage driving in the dark and driving with other teen passengers in the car, situations that can increase the likelihood of crashes for young drivers.
  5. Take action against distraction. Teach teen drivers to put phones and distractions in the back seat or out of sight. Keep them there until they reach their final destination.
  6. Be alert around neighborhoods and schools. When driving, be especially alert in residential neighborhoods and school zones. Be on the lookout for bikers, walkers or runners who may be distracted or may step into the street unexpectedly.
  7. Watch out for pedestrians. Give pedestrians the right of way and look both ways when making a turn to help spot any bikers, walkers or runners who may not be immediately visible.

Watch: When Teen Drivers Don’t Buckle Up

Safe Kids Worldwide — with support from Chevrolet — released the results of their Teen Video Challenge. Kaylyn Barbour, a teen from Oklahoma, created the award-winning video above. In it, she shares her story of how one choice to not wear her seat belt changed her life completely. The tragic experience has compelled Kaylyn to speak out to teens about the risks of unsafe driving behaviors.

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