By Rob Baquera, Public Information Officer, Roseville Police Department
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, car crashes are the number one killer of U.S. teens. The fatal crash rate per mile driven for 16-17 years olds is almost three times the rate of drivers age 20 and older. If you have a new teenage driver, you know how nerve-racking and worrisome it can be. There are things; however, you can do to help your teen drive safely.
Parents Must Lead by Example
Teen drivers may profess that they know everything about driving, but they watch your driving behavior and learn from it. The example you set when driving may be the most important lesson you teach your teen driver.
Here are some safety tips you can model for your teen driver from Consumer Reports:
Buckle Up: Despite seat-belt laws, teenagers have some of the lowest rates of seat-belt use, especially when they’re passengers. Be sure you buckle up and make sure they do as well.
Put Down the Phone: Adults often find that the quiet of the car is a tempting time to make or answer calls when driving. Avoid that temptation, not only because of the risk it presents but also because of the message it sends to your young driver. Set the example by having your teen send a text or make a call for you.
Slow Down: Speed is a contributing factor in almost one-third of motor vehicle fatalities. Young drivers don’t yet have a good gauge of how fast is too fast, so driving slower than you normally would is safer for both of you.
Don’t Drink and Drive: Be especially aware of the message you’re sending your teen when you’re driving after having a glass or two of wine at a dinner party. Stress the importance of designating a driver, and let your teens listen in on the discussions you have with other adults about the issue.
Consider Your Own Driving Contract: Writing down a set of rules- and perhaps more important, the consequences they’ll face if they violate them- makes it clear what your expectations are. Sample contracts can be found on many websites.
Driver’s License Restrictions
It is important for parents to be aware of driver’s license restrictions for new teen drivers.
According to the California DMV Handbook, during the first 12 months, a minor cannot:
Drive between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.
Transport passengers under 20 years unless accompanied by a licensed:
• Parent or guardian
• California driver 25 years old or older
• Certified driving instructor
It is against the law for drivers under 18 years old to use a cellphone or other wireless electronic communication device while driving, including a hands-free device, unless making a call for emergency services or on private property.
Exceptions to Restrictions
When reasonable transportation is not available and it is necessary for a minor to drive, the law grants the following exceptions for minors to drive between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. or to transport an immediate family member unaccompanied and unsupervised.
School or school-authorized activity
Immediate need of family member
The law requires that you must carry a signed note explaining why you must drive and when the necessity will end. For further details, see the DMV Driving Handbook.
Young drivers are very impressionable and look to their parents for guidance. Make sure you model safe driving habits. Summer is just around the corner, and your teen may be driving to work, sports activities, or running errands for you.
With time, experience, and guidance, their driving skills will improve. Take the time to talk with your teen about the responsibility that comes with driving and your expectations. With your help, your teen will become a safe driver.