When it comes to parenting, it is said that over-involvement in your teenager’s life can be counter-productive. My mother would disagree, as would most grandmothers from her generation who ruled with an iron fist and a stingy flyswatter. Why did parents of my generation think they could do it better? Oh well, at least we experimented with time outs and counting to three, and we failed miserably. So, when it comes time for your teenager to be driving, you’re going to have to really put your foot down (or up…). Although helicopter parenting may be considered over the top and not very helpful, when it comes to our teens behind the wheel, nagging a little too much and being overly cautious may be the best approach to save your teenager’s life.
There are countless stories about teen accidents as well as countless videos showing teens driven to distraction, and the statistics are alarming. Studies show that, if you are going to die prematurely, at any time in your life, the two worst years are between 16 and 17, and the reason is because of driving. In fact, the leading cause for accidental death in teenagers is car crashes and the second leading cause for accidental death is perhaps from mouthing off (after all, I am a mother. Inexperienced drivers, combined with in-car distractions is truly a recipe for disaster. And, when it comes to our kids, studies also say that many parents may be much too relaxed about the subject. Either they trust their own kids entirely too much (which puts a lot of adult responsibility on them), or the parents are simply tired of car pooling their children and look forward to having someone else take over that chore. And why not other errands as well, such as washing the car, shopping, etc. Sometimes it’s nice to have some help. And most teenagers that haven’t a car of their own would jump at the chance to get behind the wheel and run those errands for you, just to get some drive time. Which is a good thing, since practice leads to experience, and experience makes a better driver. Under the strict rule, although, that they are not picking up other friends to go along for the ride since teen car pooling causes the most danger.
According to AAA, if a 16 or 17 year old driver has a passenger under 21 in the car, they are 44% more likely to be killed in a crash. Having two passengers doubles that risk, and it quadruples with three or more passengers.
It is said that teens think that they are invincible and they’re not particularly worried about the harm to themselves of getting in a car crash. Some kids admit that they were trying to look cool for their friends and/or trying to impress them when they crashed. Most states set passenger limits for new drivers for these very reasons. But ultimately it is the parent’s responsibility to keep their own kid safe. So, setting rules will only let them know that you care. Make a contract with your kid. Stipulating the rules and outlining the consequences for violating those rules will help you to monitor your kid.
Driving is a privilege, and a privilege can be taken away. So…cell phones in the glove compartment (be sure to turn the notification “dings” are off). And long live your kid!

Until next week…

Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist

Teens Behind The Wheel – Comedy Defensive Driving