Remember when you first got your driver’s license? Did your friends want to ride with you to school, parties, sports events? I know mine did. I had no idea how dangerous carpooling as a teen could be until I had the frightening experience of spinning a 360 degree turn on a 4 lane road with my best friend in the front passenger seat. We’d been talking, I was inexperienced behind the wheel, and was distracted. It scared me enough to reconsider driving with a full car that winter.
We recently had a post on teenage driving and its risks. In Washington state, graduated drivers licensing is in place to help increase experience behind the wheel before allowing full driving rights, and decrease teen accidents. But even with the added experience, teens are still at risk when driving, especially if their car is packed with friends.
Motor vehicle accidents are the number one killer of teens in the US. Carpooling with teen drivers is especially dangerous. Nearly 2 out of every 3 teen crash deaths among 16 year old drivers happens when a new driver has more than one passenger in the car. As adults, I think we often take driving for granted. If we need to get to work, we hop in the car. Most of us drive somewhere multiple times per day. Parents of teens can do something to improve safety (besides acting as your teen’s chauffeur!). The CDC has facts for parents of teens who are drivers. Some of the tips include:
- Talk with your teen about staying safe behind the wheel.
- Limit teens to having one passenger or less during the initial period of driving independently.
- Role model good driving: No texting or talking on a cell phone. Always wear a safety belt.
- Enforce the rules your family develops with an agreement. Driving privileges can be lost if rules are broken.
- Consider extending the period of monitoring after your teen obtains their license.
During the winter months, weather conditions can make driving especially dangerous for anyone, even those with lots of experience. Keep the conversation going about driving safety. Ride with your teen as a passenger and ensure you both feel safe and confident behind the wheel.