If you have a teen in your house who just recently passed their driver’s license exam or is taking the exam in the near future, you have a lot of things to think about. For your child, this is one of the most exciting times of their life – the chance to finally have a license to drive a car on their own means the ability to move around more freely. Now they can drive to school, drive to and from work, or just hang out with their friends.
Amidst all of the excitement of helping your teen get licensed to drive, you cannot forget about safety. Teenagers are inexperienced, have strong emotions, and they tend to be less focused and more susceptible to getting distracted. This is why motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among teens in the US.
Important Steps to Help Keep Teenage Drivers Safe
Educate your Teen on the Hazards to Avoid When Driving
You should work closely with your teen during the licensing process, taking time to discuss the common hazards that they need to steer clear from when they are driving. As we touched on earlier, teens are very susceptible to distractions, so you must stress the importance of not using their phone while they are operating the vehicle. Peer pressure is another common problem, so make sure to talk with them about not giving in to dangerous behaviors that may be encouraged by their friends like driving recklessly or driving after having too much to drink.
Put your Teen Driver Under Contract
In addition to educating your teen, many parents choose to take it a step further and have them sign a contract committing to follow certain rules when they are driving. This way, they will have no excuses later on if they violate one of your rules and you need to take away their driving privileges for a while.
AAA has a good parent teen driving contract that you can use which lays out several rules, such as:
- Your teen must always drive within the speed limit and obey all other traffic laws.
- No one else other than your teen is allowed to drive the vehicle.
- All vehicle occupants must wear seatbelts at all times.
- No one who is intoxicated is allowed to drive or ride in the vehicle.
- No alcohol, drugs, or weapons are allowed to be inside the vehicle at any time.
- Your teen must never conceal any warnings or tickets that they receive, or any accidents that they are involved in.
- Your teen must never engage in any thrill-seeking stunts, such as street racing or playing “chicken”.
Understand the Alabama Graduated Driver’s License Process
Alabama has a Graduated Driver’s License (GDL) law for teens who are getting licensed for the first time. Under this law, a Restricted License is granted to 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds until they have been driving for at least six months. With a Restricted License, your teen is not allowed to have more than one non-family passenger who is under the age of 21. In addition, they are not allowed to operate the vehicle between the hours of 12 AM and 6 AM unless they are accompanied by a parent, legal guardian, or a licensed adult who is 21 years of age or older, or they are going to or from work or another approved activity. Understand the rules that your teen needs to abide by if they have a Restricted License, and make sure these rules are followed.
Give your Teen Driver Access to Emergency Roadside Assistance
No matter how new or how well-maintained a vehicle is, there is always the chance that something may go wrong when your teen is driving. To provide extra security and peace of mind, sign up for an emergency roadside assistance plan and instruct your teen on how to access the service if they need it. Most insurers offer roadside assistance these days for a nominal fee, or you can obtain more comprehensive coverage through a motor club like AAA.
Use Technology to Help Prevent Hazardous Results
Having a well-educated teen driver and a written contract are extremely helpful, but you might also want to take preemptive action through the use of available technology. For example, there are several apps that can be put on your teen’s phone to block them from texting or calling while driving. Some of these apps also allow you to map out their trips, so you know that they are going where they said they were going to go.
Set the Example of How you Want Your Teen to Drive
At the end of the day, much of your teen’s driving behavior comes from watching how you drive. No matter how much you preach safe driving to them, if they see you sending text messages, speeding, or taking other unnecessary chances, on some level they will believe that these behaviors are acceptable. If you want to keep your teen safe behind the wheel, the best place to start is by driving safely yourself.
Injured in an Auto Accident in Alabama? Contact Hedge Copeland, P.C. for Assistance
Driving safely and teaching your teen to be a safe driver will significantly minimize the chances of getting in a vehicle accident. Unfortunately, you cannot control the actions of other drivers. If you or someone close to you got hurt in a car accident in Alabama, Hedge Copeland, P.C. is here to help. Message us online or call our office today at (251) 432-8844 for a free consultation and case assessment with one of our lawyers.