If you're the parent of a teenager who has reached or is about to reach driving age, you likely have at least some fear about their safety behind the wheel. Teen drivers tend to have higher accidents rates than other age groups due to inexperience and behavioral traits like impulsivity.
The good news is that as a parent, your influence is more powerful than you probably realize. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, the most important factor in preventing teen-driver auto accidents is parental involvement.
Specifically, you should help your teen gain skills and earn driving freedoms over time by taking advantage of California's graduated driver licensing laws. Every state has a GDL program in place, and these laws are associated with a 20-40 percent reduction in car accidents among teen drivers.
However, these programs work best when parents are involved. The deputy executive director of the GHSA explained that "GDL isn’t just a state or police program, it’s a parent program. When parents understand how and why GDL works to address their novice drivers’ crash risk and partner with their teens to enforce the proven provisions associated with these programs, good things happen.”
According to the GHSA, parents who monitor their teen drivers supportively and set clear driving rules can make a huge difference in their child's safety behind the wheel. Teen drivers with involved and supportive parents are:
- 71 percent less likely to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- 50 percent less likely to be involved in a car accident
- 50 percent more likely to wear a seatbelt
- 30 percent less likely to use a cellphone behind the wheel
- Less likely to speed
If these statistics have your attention (and they should), then you're ready to help your teenage son or daughter become a better and safer driver. Please take a few moments to educate yourself about California's GDL program and how you can help your teen get the most out of it. Then, set clear rules and expecations for all drivers in the family to follow.
Source: Forbes, "Teens With Parents Who Set Driving Rules 71% Less Likely To Drive Drunk, GHSA Says," Tanya Mohn, Oct. 22, 2013