I have twin seven-year old boys and though I look forward to the day when they leave the nest, I also dread the coming of puberty and the potential problems that come with it. Alcohol, drugs and smoking are just a few of the possible pitfalls that await them. As parents, we do our best to steer our kids clear of these dangers. Yet, risky and dangerous behaviours among teens are as common as ever.
But the situation is not as hopeless as it may seem. Studies that shown that teenagers generally would listen to what their parents have to say. Thus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is calling to all parents to talk to their adolescents about driving safety, with the firm belief that parents “play a key role in preventing teen crashes, injuries and deaths.”
Here some statistics from the CDC about teen crashes:
- Car crashes are the number killer of teens.
- Car crashes cost about 3000 teens their lives each year.
- The main cause of teen crashes is driver inexperience.
- · Teen drivers are four times likelier to crash than older drivers.
- · Crash risk goes up when teens drive with other teens in the car. Nearly two out of three teen crash deaths that involve 16-year-old drivers happen when a new driver has one or more teen passengers.
- · Night-time fatal crash rates for 16-year-olds are nearly twice as high as daytime rates.
Here is a recommendation from Dr. Arlene Greenspan of the CDC:
She suggests at least 30 to 50 hours of supervised practice driving over a minimum of six months and this should include different roads and road conditions and times of the day.
In addition, CDC recently launched the campaign “Parents Are the Key” with the following recommendations to help reduce the risk for teenage crashes:
- · Extend your teen’s supervised driving period.
- · Set the rules of the road.
- · Enforce the rules with a parent-teen agreement.
I have one more tip to add: set a good example.
From the backseat, your kids are observing how you drive. By setting a good example and explaining to them the safety issues as they happen, I believe we can convey to our kids early on the principles of early driving. Here’s some of the conversation I have with my kids while driving:
“I can only drive 50 kph here. See that sign over there?”
“I have to drive slowly and carefully today. It’s foggy/snowy/raining and I can’t see as clearly.”
“See what that guy did? He turned without signaling. That’s very dangerous.”
And finally, do not drive while intoxicated! Show your kids the right and safe way.