Editors Note: In an effort to provide the best benefits administration services to our clients, their employees, and their employees’ families in the automotive, roads, and fuels industry, the following is the first in an ongoing series of educational bulletins featuring real life events. Each anecdote has been taken from the archives of NARFA’s Automotive Industries Compensation Corporation (AICC) program and is designed to help inform, prepare, and protect businesses and their people from the everyday hazards within their workplace and beyond.

Going Beyond Benefits Administration: 6 Teen Driving Tips Every Parent Should Know

“Steve just turned 16 and is excited about the freedom that comes with driving a motor vehicle. He has taken a driving course at school and feels comfortable he has all the answers.”

Does this scenario sound familiar to you? Does the thought of your teenager driving around in a 4,000lb machine make you uneasy? If so, listen up.

As a parent, it’s important to take a step back every once in awhile and realize the potential ramifications of allowing your child more freedom and responsibility. And when it comes to young and new drivers, there is most certainly a significant risk.

“In 2010, about 2,700 teens in the United States aged 16–19 were killed and almost 282,000 were treated and released from emergency departments for injuries suffered in motor-vehicle crashes.” – Center for Disease Control and Prevention

Studies have shown that there are two conditions that increase the risk for teenage drivers. Those are: Driving with passengers and driving at night. But when you mix in elements of risky behavior— not wearing a seat belt, speeding, drinking and driving—the stakes that every teen driver faces rise even higher.

Thankfully, there are proven techniques to reduce the potential of your teenager being involved in a car crash. The most important and greatest benefit comes from parents and teens working together to manage the teen driving experience.

Below are some suggestions from the National Safety Council on areas parents should consider:

  1. Develop a family plan for the entire process of learning to drive. This will build the cornerstone of the teen driving experience. Once the plan has been developed, stick to it don’t back down.
  2. Chose the appropriate vehicle. As the parent, this is one area you have total control. When asked about the factors that influenced the choice of vehicles the teenager currently drives, the reasons were based on practicable factors (e.g. family already owned the vehicle, the vehicle was inexpensive, the teenager wanted it) with safety considerations accounting for only 1-2% of the responses. The Insurance Institute for Highway Driving rates vehicles based on safety performance. Parents should review the rating of the vehicle that their teenager will be driving to make an appropriate choice. This may mean that the teenager might have to wait to own a safer vehicle.
  3. Be a role model. As a parent, you are a role model and can influence decision-making. The parent has the final say as to their teen’s readiness for each stage of the learning process. What parents say and do DOES matter.
  4. In the beginning (first 12-14 months), restrictions on driving with other teenagers and at night should be enforced. Take every opportunity to drive with the teenager and where necessary provide guidance and instruction. Remember, as the parent you have the final say on when you feel your son or daughter is ready to drive independently. Don’t leave this critical decision up to the state agencies.
  5. Develop a written Parent/Teen Agreement. This agreement is an essential part of the teenagers driving experience. The teenager should have to prove he or she is ready for increased driving independence.
  6. Download the First Edition or Second Edition of Teen Driver, A Family Guide to Teen Driver Safety, from the National Safety Council. It is well worth the read.

Every parent wants the same thing: A teen driver who has a crash free and violation free experience. This will only happen if as a parent you are involved in the learning process from the beginning. Full driving independence should only be awarded once the teen driver has proven his or her skills and a commitment to safe driving.

At NARFA, we strongly believe education is the key to prevention. Contact us to learn more about what other benefits administration services we offer, or to hear more about the culture of safety we cultivate as part of our AICC worker’s compensation coverage program. And don’t forget to stay connected with our Health & Wellness Safety Tips—we’re always adding more tips to help you and your employees.

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