This post is second in a series about safe driving practices for teens and the Zero Fatalities campaigns four areas of focus: drowsy, distracted, aggressive driving and not buckling up. See the first post here.
TEAR JERKER ALERT:
More teens die in car crashes that from any other cause. This video shares stories told by Utah parents after the tragic loss of their teenage children.
To teens, driving provides access to greater freedom. As parents, we need to make sure that freedom comes with greater responsibility. One way to stress that responsibility is to use a safe driving contract.
Sign on the dotted line
Putting the rules in black and white clarifies safe driving rules and expectations. The Center for Disease Control has an online form you can download and print in Spanish or English.
Or, make your own contract with your teen. Participating with a young driver to develop a list of expectations may create better buy-in.
Besides contracts, the CDC’s Parents are the Key website has lots of good tips on Keeping driving kids safe. Click on the button, right, to check it out.
Safe driving, front and center
Here are some suggestions about starting a safe driving conversation and keeping the dialog going:
1. Talk early and often. “Parents need to talk to their children about safe driving before they even get behind the wheel,” says Jenny Johnson, Health Program Specialist with the Utah Health Department.”They can start by setting a good example for their children by driving safe themselves.”
The National Safe Kids Coalition has a new program called Countdown 2: Drive that advocates a passenger safety contract to acclimate kids age 13 to 15 about vehicle safety before learning to drive.
“By openly discussing expectations about driving, parents show their children how much they care about them and their decisions,” Says Johnson.
2. Be an example. Do you text and drive? If so, shame on you! Same goes for impaired and unbuckled driving. Show your kids safe practices.
3. Display the contract. Is your fridge a place of honor where good grades or family photos get posted? Use the fridge or a similar space to display the signed driving contract. Make a mini contract that can be attached to the dashboard, a key chain or carried in a wallet.
4. Quality time. Utah’s licensing requirements mandate that teens spend 40 hours on the road with a licensed driver. “Inexperience behind the wheel is often a factor in teen motor vehicle crashes,” says Helen Knipe, Highway Safety Program Specialist with the Utah Department of Public Safety. “By practicing with your teen, you can help them learn the rules of the road and get as much experience as possible.”
The good news
Fatality rates in Utah have declined by 24 percent over the past seven years due in part to efforts by state agencies to improve roads, educate the public, enforce laws and coordinate and plan for safety.
However, action taken by state agencies can’t make up for bad choices made by individuals. Every person behind the wheel has a responsibility to themselves and others to drive safely.
For more information about safe driving practices visit the Zero Fatalities website.