As an individual enters their teens, they reach a point where they’re in charge of a whole new set of responsibilities. Among those many exciting jobs, none is quite as important as getting behind the wheel of a car and learning how to drive for the very first time. Seeing your child at the helm of the wheel has caused parents a lot of anxiety. Although alcohol and driving has long been a hazard for teens, texting and distracted driving is ranking just as high. The following are ways to talk to your children about the many dangers.
Set Rules and Guidelines
As a parent, you worry about your children, and their safety. From riding a tricycle to navigating their bikes, it seems the worries are endless. But what about when your teen is old enough to drive? Vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in America. Whether it’s due to drinking and driving or texting and distracted driving, there are ways that you can help your child eliminate the many hazards. You can start by setting rules and guidelines for when they are old enough to drive. Before you hand your child the keys to your car, discuss limits. These can include how many people they are allowed to have in the vehicle at one time, no alcohol consumption and putting their phone away until they’ve reached their destination. Your state may also have set rules and restrictions, so you want to check the mandatory laws.
Discuss the Consequences
There are a number of consequences that can result from your teen drinking and driving or texting and driving. These can include hit and run, DUI, DUI with drugs and more. In an instant, your child’s life could be altered forever because of their actions. When your teen is ready to drive, it’s important to discuss the consequences if they should ever disobey the laws. They could be facing fines, suspended license and an increase in insurance rates. They could also face serious repercussions that include jail, and the loss of their license. This could ruin their chances of getting into college and hinder their future employment opportunities. According to, Monderlaw.com “For purposes of a DUI, driving is “volitional movement of a vehicle.” This simply means: to cause motion, steer, or control a vehicle while it is in motion. Therefore, mere control of a vehicle is insufficient to establish “driving.”
Keep the Lines of Communication Open
The teenage years are often filled with new responsibilities, raging hormones and raw emotions. You can help your teen through this ever changing time by keeping the lines of communication open. This means being frank about your expectations when they are old enough to drive. If they encounter a difficult situation where they’ve been drinking at a party, you want them to feel comfortable enough to call you before they get behind the wheel of the car. They should also report suspicious behavior to you if they are a passenger in a car being driven by their friend.
Have a Punishment Ready
When your child is old enough to drive, it’s important to relay that this right is a privilege that should never be taken lightly. When they man the steering wheel, the roadway should be their focus. Taking their eyes off the road for a split second to read or write a text can ruin the rest of their lives. If your teen disobeys the rules that you’ve set for them by drinking or texting, have a punishment ready and stick to it. Whether they lose their driving privileges or they are grounded for a set period of time, make sure the punishment has an impact on them. If you still haven’t gotten your point across to your teen, you can have your teen volunteer for an organization such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).