As the new school year starts, students and parents alike are preparing. But one thing that parents might not be ready for is their newly certified teen driver getting themselves to school.
Even if the school is nearby, teens face a significantly higher risk of being involved in a car accident than many other age groups. So, how can Kentucky parents help ensure their children are responsible and safe behind the wheel?
1. Consider making some rules
Teens often see their new driver’s license as a symbol of freedom. Now, they can go where they want, when they want. Many parents remember their own excitement when they got their driver’s licenses and do not want to take away their child’s freedom.
However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that parents play a fundamental role in keeping their teen drivers safe. Parents might want to establish some ground rules for their teen driver, regarding:
- Passengers: Teens with an intermediate license can only have one non-family member passenger in the vehicle with them under Kentucky law. These restrictions lift when teens obtain a full license, but it might be helpful for parents to retain rules about the number of passengers.
- Zero-tolerance rules: Teens nowadays seem to be glued to their phone screens. But it is illegal for teenagers under 18 to use their phone behind the wheel. Parents should make their expectations clear about distracted driving.
The CDC also highlights eight risks that teenagers face that can help parents outline what other rules they wish to have in place.
2. Talk with your teen
Making rules is helpful, but parents should also ensure they have a meaningful conversation with their teen about these rules and their expectations.
It helps for parents to explain to their teens why it is important to follow these rules. Also, parents can keep this conversation open, so it is a regular discussion.
3. Make sure you set an example
As the adage goes, actions speak louder than words. Parents might be able to create rules and maintain a regular conversation with their children about driving safely.
However, it is much more effective if parents ensure they practice safe driving behaviors as well. Children often learn from example, so parents should make sure they:
- Buckle up every time
- Follow all traffic laws
- Do not speed
- Avoid all distractions
Neither parents nor teens can control all of the potential risks on Kentucky roads. However, that makes it even more important for all drivers to be safe behind the wheel at all times.