Discussions Are Key to Safe Teen Driving
By and large, parents are aware that they need to talk to their children early on about serious issues like drugs and smoking, but a study by the Allstate Foundation found that most don't have the same urgency when it comes to talking about safe driving. Even though car crashes are the leading cause of teen deaths, the study found that only 27% of parents discuss the perils of unsafe driving with their children by age 12, compared with 70% of parents talk about the dangers of drugs and smoking by that age.
To help you have productive discussions with your children about their responsibilities before they start driving, keep these suggestions in mind:
- Keep the conversation upbeat. Teens are naturally eager to drive, so look for ways to embrace their interest while emphasizing the importance of safe driving.
- Keep talking. Teaching your child how to be a safe driver doesn't happen with only one driving lesson, so the conversation on the topic shouldn't be a "one and done" talk, either. Look for ways to continue the discussion, like the need to slow down in wet conditions as you're in the car together on a rainy night.
- Emphasize that driving is a privilege. Establish your authority by laying out your guidelines and requirements for granting them the privilege of driving, as well as the circumstances that may prompt you to revoke those privileges.
- Stress that safe driving is a major achievement. Allstate Foundation's research has shown that teens don't view safe driving as a goal like getting into the college of their choice, so tell them that being a good driver is as "smart" as anything they can ever do.
Prepared by George Palatine, Allstate Auto Insurance company, Northbrook, Ill.