Your parental angst is at an all time high as your teen jumps up and down with excitement about their newly acquired driver's license. Your kid is thinking "THE FREEDOM" while you're worrying about car crashes, fake alibis, late night parties and speeding tickets. Rightfully so, as one in five of 16-year-old drivers has an accident within their first year of driving.
Agree on Reasonable Responsibilities
Teenage rebellion is strong in the air that a 16-19 year old breathes. Commanding a solid list of restrictive rules will often leave you at the hands of an angry teen who "is grown up and can make their own decisions". Sitting down with your teen and negotiating a list of responsibilities they will need to follow in order to keep their driving privileges can lead to an honest teen/parent driving communication.
Calling these agreed upon terms "responsibilities" rather than "rules" frames them as a component of having the privilege of driving rather than a set of restrictions.
Responsibilities to Discuss
Smart Phones and Cars: When you're a teen, waiting for a text from bae or your best friend can feel like eternity. And when the phone buzzes with that long awaited message all warnings of the dangers of texting and driving fly out the window. In addition to texting, 56% of teens said they talk on the phone while driving. You can alleviate the dangers of smart phones and cars by going hands free. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto In-Dash DVD/GPS provide hands free connection for texting and voice calls. Your teen can listen and reply to texts, answer phone calls, access GPS navigation for turn by turn directions and browse music - all with two hands on the wheel and both eyes on the road. For a less robust solution, that still provides smart phone connectivity, opt for a Bluetooth Receiver capable of providing wireless music browsing and hands-free calling.
Speed Control: Teens at a focus group for teendriversource.com identified speeding as going 10 miles per hour above the posted speed limit. This is alarming because the crash risk for teens increases incrementally with each mile per hour over the speed limit. There are several options for ensuring your teen stays within the posted speed limits. Installing GPS Capable SmartStart or Drone Remote Start Systems gives you traceable access to a vehicle's location and speed and allows programmable alerts, so you can be notified when a speed barrier is broken. This technology also gives teens the ability to start their car remotely from their phone, or track their car down with their smartphone if they forget where they parked. They will love showing off their new tech to their friends and you will have peace of mind knowing you can access their location and speed whenever you want.
Safe Driving Situations: During the first six months of driving with a valid license in the state of Colorado, teens aren't allowed to have anyone under the age of 21 alone with them in the car. From six to 12 months after obtaining a valid license, teens can have one passenger under the age of 21 with them. These laws were created out of necessity, as statistics show that 16 and 17-year-old driver death rates increase with each additional passenger. Talk to your teen and make sure they understand the importance of this rule and celebrate when they reach their six month and 12 month milestones.
Safe Driving Hours: Most states have restricted driving hours for teens and new drivers. The state of Colorado requires all teens with a valid license abstain from driving between midnight and 5 a.m. for the first year they have their license*. Out of all fatal teen auto accidents, more than 40% of teen auto deaths occur between the hours of 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. This leaves four hours legal driving time in which teens are more likely to get into a fatal accident. Set reasonable curfews and program those times into your GPS Capable SmartStart or Drone Remote Start Systems to be alerted when a vehicle is moving outside specific driving times.
Safe Driving Areas: Whether it's an unsafe area of town or a specific house/area your teen is banned from going to, driving opens up the possibility of pushing those limits. GPS Capable SmartStart or Drone Remote Start Systems provides the possibility of programming Geo-fences that a vehicle should stay within or avoid, sending real-time notifications to chosen contacts when a vehicle crosses those Geo-fences. Teens will enjoy the easy opt-out from peer pressure to break the rules with "I can't, my car has GPS tracking".
The Same Rules Apply for Passengers
Your kid is a good kid and they listen to your concerns and advice, but what about the friends they can get a ride from? Only 44% of teens said they would definitely speak up if someone were driving in a way that scared them. Make sure the teens your kid is riding with understands the privileges of driving and the responsibilities that go with it. The same goes for any passenger your teen has in the car with them.
Practice What You Preach
56% of teenagers rely on their parents to learn how to drive. When you pick up your phone and send a quick text back to the boss while driving, your teen will start to emulate your behavior. Choose to drive safely without letting smartphones interfere. Make it your mission to learn all the benefits of hands-free technology with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. You will be the most tech savvy parent on the block and your teen will love you for it.
*Laws vary by county. Certain new drivers are exempt from these laws under special circumstances. Please access your local laws for more details.
*The content and style of this article are the opinions of the author and is not intended to be a professional guide to safe driving practices.