Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death among teenagers in the US, and according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, about 25% of these fatal accidents involve an underage driver who has been drinking. Distracted driving, inexperience, and failing to use seat belts also help contribute to highway deaths among teen drivers and passengers. AAA reports that teen driver accidents and fatalities increase significantly during the summer months from May through August.
If you are a parent, you surely worry about these deadly numbers when thinking about your teen on the road. There are many things you can do to help your teens stay safe while still giving them room to enjoy their summer.
Make a schedule.
When your teens plan an evening out, have them give you a detailed itinerary of their evening. Make sure you know exactly where they’ll be, when they will be there, and how you can reach them in case you can’t get through on their cell phone. If it helps, explain that you need this information in case there is an emergency.
Plan all the transportation. The schedule should include exactly how your teens will get from one venue to the next and how they will get home. You’ll want to know who the driver is for each trip. If the driver isn’t someone you’re sure about, offer to do the driving yourself or work out driving with another parent you trust.
Have clear rules for teen drivers.
Driving under the influence isn’t the only risk for teen drivers. A high percentage of accidents involving teen drivers are caused by distracted driving, whether from text or cell phone use, or from having friends in the car. If your teen is driving or riding with a teen driver, don’t allow them to drive anyone other than their date (or friend), and make sure they both understand the safety rules you expect them to follow while in the car. (Rhode Island’s provisional license law prohibits a first-year teen driver from having more than one non-family passenger under age 21 for the first year of the license.)
Know who is hosting the party.
If the evening includes a party, make sure you know exactly where it takes place and who is hosting it. Talk to the parents and find out their rules for the party, how many people will be present, and whether the parents will be actively chaperoning the teens. It’s much easier for teens to drink or make other irresponsible choices if the adult chaperones plan to stay in another part of the house.
Have check-in times.
Agree with your teens on a few times during the evening that they will call you to check in. Those can either be specific times on the clock, or they can call to let you know they are leaving one venue or have arrived safely at another.
Have a curfew.
No matter what activities the evening involves, it should end with a clear and firm curfew. Make sure that your teens and whoever is transporting them know exactly what time you expect them to be home. And stay up until they arrive. That way, they’ll know you take the curfew seriously.
Have a rescue plan.
Even the most responsible teens can find themselves in an unsafe situation. Let your teens know they can call you at any time to be picked up if they feel uncomfortable. Many experts suggest that you agree on a “code word” that they can use to let you know they need help, without tipping off peers who may be listening and who don’t think there’s a problem. And if they do make the call, do not respond by scolding them when you pick them up! If any lecturing is needed, save it for another day when both of you are not tired and under stress…
With a little planning, good communication, and a firm grasp of the rules, both you and your teens can enjoy their summer social activities.
Rob Levine & Associates specializes in Personal Injury throughout Rhode Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts, as well as Social Security Disability and Veterans Disability throughout the country. As “The Heavy Hitter ®” Rob Levine not only works hard on your case, but also believes in making a positive impact in the communities he serves. Through internal resources, education and volunteerism, Rob Levine & Associates strives to help prevent accidents, as well as raise awareness around the needs of our elderly and returning veterans. For more information visit www.roblevine.com, or call 401.529.1222 or toll free 800-529-1222.