It’s every parent’s worst nightmare to have their child killed. We are biologically programmed to do anything to keep our children alive and one way that we can do that is to be extra vigilant before and during the time that they start driving. In addition to teaching them the rules of the road, we have to teach them not to drink and drive.
Learning to drive is an exciting time for a teenager, and a stressful
one for any and all parents. A driver’s license brings freedom and a
new level of independence, but it can also bring serious risks. Learning
to operate a vehicle under a variety of circumstances takes practice
and is a skill that is developed over time. It’s no surprise that car
crashes are the number one cause of death for teenagers, resulting in six teen deaths every day.
Too often, our sons and daughters are injured or even killed because
they are inexperienced drivers, taking unnecessary risks like texting,
driving under the influence, speeding and not wearing a seat belt. Our
sons make up three out of four teen deaths in car crashes, and the risk of a crash by teen drivers is almost three times higher if their passengers are male.
But parents can play an important role in preventing these tragedies.
According to our study
supported by the General Motors Foundation, when parents and teens
discuss rules for driving and come to a formal agreement, whether verbal
or written, teens are less likely to engage in risky behavior while
For example, teens told us when they have an established family rule
against drinking and driving they were 10 times less likely to drive
after drinking than those who didn’t have an established rule. Teens
with explicit family rules were more likely to wear their seat belt
every time and were less likely to drive distracted or speed.
What parents do
behind the wheel also matters. Teens who saw a parent driving after
drinking were three times more likely to report driving after drinking
than teens whose parents modeled safe behavior. And we know from past research that teens were more likely to buckle up on every ride if their parents made buckling up a consistent habit from a young age.
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