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can help prevent teen driver car crashes
one gets behind the wheel of a car the process of risk assessment begins. This
is why drivers look both ways before entering the roadway. The driver is
determining issues of risk before taking action.
the driver is also trying to determine how much risk he or she can get away
with. If the speed limit is 50 the driver may be thinking about going 55, 60, or
more. The driver considers the choices and the likely consequences thereof. The
process is quick and based upon prior driving experience.
have driven much more than their new teen drivers. Parents have driven in all
seasons, driving conditions and roadways. They are keenly aware of collisions
and their aftermath from personal experience or through the experience of family
or friends. As such, they base their risk assessment decisions on years of these
experiences. This is totally unlike a new teen driver though.
concern about the teen driver is lack of judgment. This means that teens do not
have the same depth of experience on which to base their risk assessment as more
experienced drivers. Hence they may make poor decisions. Add heightened emotions
or impulsive thinking and judgment can be further impaired.
of experience and lesser judgment is not often recognized by teens. They cannot
see what they never had or are yet to develop. They cannot appreciate their lack
of experience and as such will argue that they are as fully capable of assessing
risk as older adults.
have a marvelous capacity for language. They have just spent the past several
years in high school and elementary school before that. Some teens convince
their parents that they know more than their direct experience could have ever
parents think that because they trust their teen or because their teen is good
or because their teen is convincing, that their teen will exercise good judgment
when using the car. However, parents are cautioned to remember that their
teenís judgment just doesnít have the wealth of experience to back it up. No
matter how good or well-meaning the teen, they simply are not fully equipped for
the management of a motor vehicle under all circumstances. The issue therefore
is not trust, but experience, the basis of sound judgment.
is well known to insurance companies. Insurance companies do not consider young
persons experienced until about age 25 because this is the average age when
crashes start to significantly decline.
driver car crashes are the leading cause of permanent injury and death in teens.
Each year in the United States more than 5,000 teens lose their lives in motor
vehicle crashes and another 400,000 suffer injuries. Canada has proportional
numbers, as does virtually every industrialized nation.6
must talk with their teens to set limits and determine responsibilities,
expectations and restrictions on the use of the car. Itís not until the teen
reaches about 25 years of age that they will truly appreciate such actions taken
by parents. Hence parents must withstand any backlash.
reduce risk, parents can restrict the number of passengers allowed in the
vehicle; insist that their teen buckle-up and do so as well. Parents can also
discuss the radio or car stereo. Turn the radio on and discuss an acceptable
limit for the volume. If a teen is out after midnight, parents should continue
to drive. Crash statistics show
that the hours between midnight and 5:00 am have the greatest number of deaths
from teen driver car crashes. It is better to lose some sleep than pick oneís
teen up at the hospital or morgue.
donít let the tail wag the dog. Remember, your car, your rules. Responsibility
as a parent is the safety of the child until the child is truly independent.
help parents discuss driving responsibilities and expectations, there is a free
Safe Driving Contract from the I Promise Program, teen safe driving initiative.
Parents are the path to the keys. Make the safe driving contract a step along the way.
Direnfeld, MSW, RSW
For information on Direnfeld's book, Raising Kids Without Raising Cane, click here.
Are you the parent of new teen driver? Check out this teen safe driving program: www.ipromiseprogram.com
20 Suter Crescent, Dundas, ON, Canada L9H 6R5 Tel: (905) 628-4847 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org