Parents, while you may be somewhat reluctant to hand over the keys to your newly-licensed son or daughter now that school is out, you can do your part to help keep teen drivers safe this summer.
Buy the Right Car
If a new car purchase, or a reliable used vehicle, is on the agenda, it’s important to pick the right car for your teen. Keep in mind that teens lack the experience and history of driving that you have, and they may be prone to taking chances. Choose a safe and reliable vehicle for your teen to drive, and remember that SUVs and trucks have much different handling ability than sedans and coupes. Look for a safe vehicle that has perfect five-star overall ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Top Safety Pick Status from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
Teens love to get in the car and roll down the road with their favorite tunes blasting on the radio. With the volume at ear-piercing decibels, it’s all too easy for teen drivers to miss important signs their vehicle needs maintenance. These include not hearing or paying attention to low tire pressure warning chimes or flashing warnings, odd sounds from the tires which may indicate a flat or underinflated tires, sounds of engine trouble, and so on. Stress that it’s necessary to do a visual inspection of the tires, to regularly (weekly) check the tire pressure level on all tires (including a spare, if there is one), levels of windshield wiper fluid, oil, brake fluid, coolant, transmission fluid and power steering fluid. Keeping fluids at the full level will help prolong the life of the vehicle and help prevent a breakdown on the road.
Insist on Everyone Buckling Up
Seat belts save lives. This is the simplest, yet most effective, way to help keep teen drivers safe this summer. Be a good role model and always ensure that you and everyone else in the car is buckled up before you drive. Remind teens that this is a part of what they need to do to be allowed to drive a car this summer—no exceptions.
No Hand-Held Cell Phone Use or Texting While Driving
Distracted driving is highly hazardous, made worse by young driver’s and passengers insisting on making and taking phone calls and texts despite growing research of how unsafe the practice is. Talk with your teen about the parental rule of no texting or cell phone use behind the wheel. If your teen continues this distracted driving behavior, consider getting OnStar FMV, or opting for Ford MyKey or Chrysler Group’s Electronic Vehicle Tracking Service (EVTS), a Mopar dealer-installed accessory, or an aftermarket device or service that blocks incoming calls and texts by your teen driver.
Limit Number of Passengers
Even if your teen has attained his or her full licensing privileges, meaning there is no restriction on the number of peer passengers, it’s wise to insist on limits on how many teenage passengers your teen can carry in the vehicle. Except in the case of emergencies, there should not be multiple teen passengers, especially at night or during hazardous weather conditions. More than one teen in the car increases the likelihood of distracted driving.
Skip Cruise Control
Over-reliance on cruise control should be avoided by teen drivers. You can help keep teen drivers safe this summer by saying that their complete attention needs to be on the road ahead, not being lulled into a false sense of security by setting the cruise control and just traveling on. Summer nights, especially, are dangerous as teens may be tired and fall asleep while driving.