A typical milestone in any family is the time when a teenage child reaches the age to drive legally. Driver’s education instructors will play a pivotal role in guiding them through the steps of safe motor vehicle operation. However, the role of parents cannot be discounted, especially the time between their child receiving their learner’s permit and passing the driver’s license exam.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration revealed that motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of teen deaths throughout the country. Specific collisions are the result of a combination of factors that include underage drinking, lack of seat belts, and distracted driving.

Sound advice while setting a good example

Teens see the ability to drive legally as a sense of freedom. However, with freedom comes the significant responsibility to operate a car safely. Before letting their kids get behind the wheel, parents should consider the skill level of their teens and advise them on potential mistakes that could lead to a severe collision. Equally important are teens embracing the guidance provided to them.

Parents must be involved in guiding their child from a novice to a knowledgeable driver. Teaching safety tips early on can mean the difference between safe driving and reckless behavior that can result in a serious accident.

Parents should also establish strict and enforceable rules at the outset that include:

  • Mandatory seat belts
  • Restricting driving at night with passengers
  • Deterring the use of smartphones and other electronic devices while in the car
  • Educating on the hazards of drug and alcohol use and driving under the influence

Regardless of all the advice and rules from parents, not to mention the time spent behind the wheel with their offspring, the examples they set will likely make the most difference. A parent who aggressively drives while exceeding the speed limit or committing other traffic infractions sends, at best, a mixed message to their impressionable children traveling with them.

Parents, more than anyone involved in teaching kids how to drive, should serve as role models.

Formal driver’s education is only the start of a teenager’s learning curve. Quality time spent helping them to improve their skills can make a significant difference both before and after the teen receives their license. In the end, it could be the difference between life and death.

By Maho | Prentice, LLP Attorneys at Law on February 25, 2021