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Parents Shape Teens into Responsible Drivers

Besides graduation day, the day a teenager gets their driver's license is one of the most important days of their lives. It's something they've looked forward to for years, that feeling of freedom once they hit the open road. Unfortunately, parents don't always share the same vision. As your child begins to get behind the wheel, there are some things you can do as a parent to help maintain your child's safety, and your sanity.

Kids learn from the examples they are given, which means that children can pick up on their parents' bad driving habits. On the other hand, if you come to a complete stop at stop signs and consistently wear your seat belt, there's a good chance your child will follow suit. Safe and responsible driving is just another thing parents pass down to their children.

Department of Education statistics show that students perform better in school when their parents are involved in their education. This holds true for driver's education, as well. Parents who understand the process of getting your license and keep updated on what their child is learning in driver's ed can offer more relevant advice and create opportunities for their child to practice necessary skills.

Teenagers also need a framework for understanding what consequences exist when drivers are not safe and responsible. Parents must help their teen driver understand that getting tickets and into accidents will raise their insurance premium and put their driving privileges into jeopardy. Furthermore, unsafe driving can lead to life-changing injuries to themselves and others. Most insurance providers offer some sort of "good student” discount, which is a good way to tie in school performance with driving.

Sometimes, all the preparation in the world cannot prevent an auto accident from happening. This is why parents must also advise their teen on what to do if they were to get into an accident. Tell your child to immediately call the police and then call home after an accident happens. Also, have your child keep a pen and paper in their glove box alongside other important documents, to take down the names and addresses of those involved and witnesses to the accident. Finally, be sure to remind them that they should never admit fault to the accident with anyone other than the police and their insurance company.

If the threat of rising insurance costs isn't enough to encourage your teen to drive safely, then maybe some sobering statistics will show them the way. An accident study from the National Safety Council has determined that nearly 50% of the traffic deaths in the U.S. are connected to drinking alcohol, with 16 to 24 year olds making up half of that population. Even more shocking, injuries from traffic accidents is the leading killer of young people aged 6 to 27. On the brighter side, wearing your seatbelt and driving a car equipped with air bags nearly doubles your chances of surviving a serious accident.

Remember that driver's education doesn't stop once your child gets their full permit, it's an ongoing process. The more knowledge you share about defensive driving and the dangers of getting behind the wheel after drinking, the more they will practice responsible driving in their own lives. Believe it or not, your teen will take your words to heart, which can help you worry less after you fork over the keys.

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