'Teen Driver Safety Week': How you can continue the conversation in your family

Posted at 5:30 AM, Oct 23, 2020

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — All week long we've been going in-depth for you to help you keep your teens safe when they're behind the wheel.

We told you earlier this week that a majority of teens model their driving habits on the way their parents drive.

But nearly half of parents surveyed in a recent study from Liberty Mutual and SADD practiced unsafe driving habits, despite being asked to stop.

28 percent of teens say their parents justify unsafe behavior.

This study is now shining a spotlight on one fact that experts agree on: as a parent, you are the number one influence on your teen driver's safety.

"Parents often times forget that they have the experience as a driver to be that coach."

So how can you begin to coach your kids?

The NHTSA says you should follow these four steps

    1. Start the Conversation Early: Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for 15- to 18-year-olds in the United States, and 2,082 teen drivers were involved in fatal crashes in 2016. Talk to your teens about safe driving early and often, before they reach driving age. But don’t stop there: Have conversations with the parents of your teen's peers or friends and compare notes—both are key to your teens’ safety.
    2. Set the Standard: Talking is important, but action is even better. Show your kids safe driving behavior. Start by modeling good habits any time you drive them anywhere, even before they begin to drive. Make sure you, yourself, are turning off your cell phone and stowing it away, and buckling your seat belt before starting your car.
    3. Get It In Writing: When your teenagers begin driving, we recommend you set ground rules and outline the consequences for breaking them in a parent-teen contract like the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's Parent-Teen Driving Contract. Consider hanging your contract by the family car keys or near the front door.
    4. Spell Out the Rules: No cell phones, no passengers, no speeding, no alcohol, no driving when tired, and always buckle up. These rules could help save your teen’s life.

    "Practice makes perfect, as they say. And the more time that parents can spend with teens inside the vehicle, practicing under different circumstances, that's the roadway to keeping more people safe, particularly young people."

    And it doesn't end when your teen gets their license.

    "Wherever you might be going, have them driving you and continuing that conversation because your role as a coach never ends.

    Once they start driving spell out the rules

    • no cell phones
    • no passengers
    • no speeding
    • no alcohol
    • no driving when tired
    • always buckle up

    These rules could help save your teen's life.

    And lastly, get it in writing.

    Set up a parent-teen driving contract that lays out the consequences for breaking the driving rules you and your kids set, together.

    SADD says you should always follow through.

    "Don't just stop being the coach when you hand your teen the keys and they go off solo."

    You can find more information here.