When their kids start driving, parents know that the golden years of childhood are over. In Virginia, like anywhere else, parents of teen drivers have reasons to worry.
Teenage drivers have, by definition, no experience, and driving is all about experience. It is mostly an on-the-job learning process. Moreover, teenagers lack the maturity that is required to operate a vehicle that could kill them and others.
Starting at the tender age of 16, the ability of teenagers to drive safely improves slowly, and it is only from age 20 that the causes of fatal crashes start changing. If the percentage of fatal accidents caused by driver error, speeding, or loss of control drop over this period, the unpleasant truth is that alcohol-related crashes increase sharply.
What can parents do to make teenage driving safer?
Parents should be aware that even graduated licensing systems offer no guarantee that the teen will use his or her driver’s license responsibly. Driving schools do not change the teenager’s attitude and maturity level. Most teens make the unconscious decision not to listen to their parents or educators and instead seek the approval or acceptance of their peers.
- The first step to support your child in this critical period is to get involved and talk a lot about traffic, operating a car, the causes of crashes, the consequences, distractions and dangerous attitudes, other drivers, etc.
- The second step is to be present when they drive. Do not let them drive only with their friends. Let them drive you. Let them practice with you. Show them what happens when the road is slippery, when you brake suddenly, when you do not look at the blind spot…
- The third step is to set the rules. Limit driving at night, limit the number of passengers, request seat belt use, and prohibit the use of a cell phone while driving. Your rules lose all credibility if you do not follow them yourself, of course.
There are many more ways to support your teen driver, and some excellent educational websites will inspire you. This might be the moment they need you most.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a Virginia car, truck, or motorcycle accident, please contact our Warrenton or Culpeper attorneys today for a free discussion of your accident case. You will have a clear view of how our lawyers can help protect your rights.