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6 safety tips that can save the life of a teen driver

What to teach your teen drivers during National Teen Driver Safety Week


Being the parent of a new driver can certainly make for very restless and worrisome evenings. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of 2010 (the latest data available) motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens, accounting for more than one in three deaths in this teenager age group.

It doesn’t have to be this way.  As an attorney who has spoken to teen drivers from over a dozen Metro Detroit area high schools for Law Day, I know that educating a  teenage driver can go a long way in preventing teen car accidents.  And since today marks  the start of National Teen Driver Safety Week, I’d like to share some driving safety tips for parents to pass along to their teen drivers.

These tips will help equip your teen driver with a mindset for safety each time they get behind the wheel.

1. Know the graduated driver license laws in Michigan: As of March 30, 2011, all Michigan teens driving on a “Level 2″ license have two new restrictions. You can read more in our blog about the Michigan teen driving law, or by visiting Michigan’s Graduated Drivers Licensing Guide.

2. Teach your teen driver about just how dangerous texting and driving really is: Texting while driving is a top killer of teen drivers and a major cause of teen car accidents. A recent study suggests that texting and driving replaces drunk driving as the top cause of car accident fatalities. Texting while driving is even illegal in Michigan. Read about the penalties here.

3. Make your teen driver sign a contract to not drive distracted or drive drunk: Or else privileges like driving will be quickly taken away! Here’s a no-texting pledge that Oprah implemented with the same idea.

4. Teach your teens to become smarter drivers behind the wheel:  Teens think they are invincible. They think they will live forever. Using words that will have more meaning to a teenager can be a better way of reaching them. Telling a teenager how to be a  “smart driver” might appeal more to some teens than the same talk of being a “safe driver” when they revert to thinking of you as Mother Hen and they nod their heads but fade off. It doesn’t matter as long as the message is the same.

5. Teach your teen driver about driving in inclement weather, like winter driving: Here’s a blog post about safe winter driving, and a web page with 14 safe driving tips.

6. More resources to educate your teens: Teen Driver Source offers downloadable tools for all types of groups including parents, teens and those who educate teens. Here’s the parenting section on how to prevent teen car crashes, where you can learn strategies for getting your message across and get more facts on teen driving. It’s a great resource.

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Blog Author Steven M. Gursten
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