How best to prepare your young teen driver for the road

Having a teen driver is both a blessing and a curse. Finally, all those requests to take them here, and pick them up from there, are gone. They can take themselves.

The sigh of relief that you’re no longer a chauffeur is eclipsed by the fact that your teen is now the responsible person behind the wheel. Young drivers aren’t always perfect, and there’s a lot of anxiety as a parent as a result.

You need to relinquish control and let them learn how to become a good and careful driver through practice, but it doesn’t mean you can’t set them on the right path.

Basic driving tips for beginners

As young drivers, you don’t want to overwhelm your kids with rules. They did, after all, just study a bunch (hopefully) to pass their driver’s test, so focus on common sense driving tips that your teen driver may not have picked up on yet.

Start by making sure your teen understands how the car works. They may have had to flip on their indicators to make a turn during their driver’s test, but do they know how to put on the windshield wipers, turn on the high beams, and get the gas tank to pop open? What about popping the hood? It might even be worthwhile to have them skim the car’s owner’s manual.

Next, have a conversation about seat belts. Buckling up isn’t only a law, but it’s a proven safety precaution should a teen car accident occur. Seat belts reduce the risk of death, in a car accident, by 45 percent, and cut down the risk of a serious injury by half. Those who don’t wear a seatbelt, in the front seat, are 30 times more likely to get thrown out the front windshield of the car on impact.

Once you feel like your teen can effectively operate all the parts of the car, and will wear their seatbelt, most of your job is done. You can’t control what happens once they’re on the road, but it never hurts to toss out some casual reminders before your teen heads out, like:

  • Stay alert at all times
  • Watch out for pedestrians and bicyclists
  • Obey the speed limit
  • Never assume the other driver will yield, be cautious even if you have the right-of-way

If you have unique road patterns near your home, you may want to go over how your teen handles those as well. Things like rotaries or a stoplight that goes out of use at a certain time and flashes instead.

While you can never give too many driving tips for beginners when it’s your teen getting into a car, remember, they have limited capacity to remember. You want to prioritize your safety tips to maximize their impact.

Texting and driving

Separate from all basic driving tips, you should have a serious conversation with your teen driver about distracted driving. Specifically, talk about texting and driving. It’s shocking how many teens die from texting and driving each year. In 2018 alone, over 200 teens between the ages of 15-19 were killed due to texting and driving, and over 390,000 injuries happen every year from car accidents caused by the same activity.

Require your teens to set their phone on Do Not Disturb while driving. They should never pick up their phone while the car is on the road and they’re behind the wheel, even if they’re at a red light. This isn’t just your rule, but it’s the law in Georgia.

Once you’ve established the rules for texting and driving, make sure you broaden the conversation to include other distracted driving statistics. While texting and driving is a huge reason drivers take their eyes off the road, there are a variety of distracted driving statistics that result from other issues.

In 2020, distracted driving killed over 3,000 people. Make sure your teen understands that driving while sleepy or eating distracts you. Driving with the music on really loud, or everyone in your car talking at once, distracts you. Trying to do anything else while driving, but driving, distracts you, and distracted driving is unsafe driving.

Teen car accident to-do’s

So, you’ve broken down the basics, put plenty of emphasis on why not to text and drive, and now it’s time to cover teen car accident protocol. You hope it won’t happen, but if it does, it’s so easy for your teen to panic. This is something totally new and scary. Going over the basic procedure with them, maybe even preparing a cheat sheet of what to do for the glove box, can make a big difference.

If in a car accident, make sure you teen knows to:

  • Call the police. Even if there’s not a medical emergency, police should come to the scene.
  • Avoid placing blame on themselves or the other driver.
  • Exchange contact information with other driver(s), including insurance information and license plate numbers.
  • Take pictures of everything at the scene, including property damage and injuries.
  • Seek medical attention if you need it. Don’t wait.

Teens should collect the car accident report from the police officer if possible, and call you as soon as they can. You can then help them report the car accident to your insurance company. You can also assess the situation to see if it’s necessary to reach out for legal support from an attorney.

If the insurance company wants to talk to your teen, at any point, make sure you’re with them during the call, and keep the call on speaker, so you can hear the whole exchange and advise your child when necessary.

Updating your car insurance to cover your teen

Prior to your teen driving anywhere, make sure you’ve added them to your car insurance. You don’t want them to end up in a car accident without coverage, and they’re not automatically added onto your policy.

This update will change your monthly premiums, by a lot, so you may want to consider asking your teen to contribute to the cost of their insurance if they can. On average, adding a teen to a car insurance policy can cost $2,000 per year. They are the riskiest drivers to insure.

You’ll want to notify your insurance company of your teen’s driving status before they get their learner’s permit. Then, once they have a driver’s license, reach out again to verify they’re added to your policy. Make sure to set them as the primary driver on whatever car they’ll be using most of the time.

Since teens are new drivers, and more prone to making mistakes, it’s best to have full coverage for them. This includes liability, collision, and uninsured motorist coverage. You should also talk to your agent to make sure you have enough coverage to protect you if your teen should cause a serious wreck.

When a teen in a car accident needs back up

Hopefully, any car accident your teen experiences will be minor and easy to settle. They may experience some trauma, but hopefully will move past it. Should the circumstances of their car accident be different, and you feel as if the insurance companies aren’t providing proper compensation, don’t hesitate to reach out for legal support.

The team at Watson Injury Law understands that each car accident is different, and strives to provide the customized, personalized experience each client needs. We know that when children, even teenagers, are involved, it’s a harder, scarier experience, and we work to take the stress off you by handling all the details of your case. Contact us today for a free consultation to learn more.

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