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Parents can help keep teens safe on the road

While some parents may see the day their teenager gets a driver’s license as a day of freedom, the truth is their parenting job is just beginning. Teens pose the highest risk to themselves and other drivers, and studies show that parents can play a huge role in improving their teenager’s abilities behind the wheel.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the highest number of teenage fatalities is due to motor vehicle accidents. Some of the biggest reasons for crashes are inexperience and lack of responsibility. The state of New Jersey helps combat the lack of experience by requiring a graduated driver licensing system, which places restrictions, such as nighttime driving or passengers.

Along with making sure the teen follows these laws, parents should help improve driving skills by going along on rides. Besides working on basic abilities, parents should guide the teen through more challenging situations, such as during high traffic times, during inclement weather and at night.

Another issue with teenage drivers is distractions. Some common ones include teenage passengers, eating breakfast, putting on makeup and using the cell phone to call or text. Parents should set a good example by refraining from distracting behaviors when they themselves are behind the wheel.

To further reduce dangerous driving, the Centers for Disease Control recommends that parents create a driving agreement with their teenage driver. In the agreement, outline rules and expectations, as well as consequences if the teen breaks the rules. Both parents and the teenager should sign it and be aware of what it says. Parents can update this agreement over time to accommodate improved driving skills.