Most teenagers can't wait to get their driver's license. If it's time for that much-awaited rite of passage in your home, here are three things you can do to help keep your child safe:
Tip #1: Know - and enforce - the rules designed to protect inexperienced younger drivers, including no friends in the passenger seats.
For example, in Connecticut, for the entire time a driver holds a learner's permit, he or she may not have any passengers except for either:
· A licensed driving instructor giving instruction and others accompanying that instructor.
· One person who is providing instruction and is at least 20 years old, has held a driver's license for four or more consecutive years and whose license has not been suspended during the four years prior to training.
· Parents or legal guardian may accompany the instructor.
In a study released last year, researchers for AAA found that the presence of young passengers in a car with an inexperienced driver can dramatically change the likelihood of a fatal crash. The nationwide study found that the fatality risk nationwide of a 16- or 17-year-old driver increases by 44 percent when carrying just one passenger under age 21 and no other passengers. The risk doubles when there are two passengers in the car. And it quadruples when there are more than three young passengers in the vehicle.
Tip #2: Talk to your child about texting and driving.
Forty percent of all American teens say they have been in a car when the driver used a cell phone in a way that put people in danger, according to a Pew survey. Tell your teen that it's okay to speak up when they aren't comfortable with how their friends are driving. Offer to come pick them up if they don't feel safe. Let them know that it's absolutely unacceptable to use their phone when they're behind the wheel.
Tip #3: Consider GPS monitoring.
There are a number of good programs that let you remotely monitor your teen's driving behavior, including vehicle speed, direction and location. You'll receive real-time notifications if your teen exceeds speed limits.
Most importantly, make sure you set a good example by following your own rules.