19 Jul The Safe and Sober Driving Guidelines
Who taught you how to drive? You can probably still recall how you felt. Do you remember slipping your key into the ignition and pressing your foot on the gas pedal for the first time? Were you nervous, anxious, excited or scared?
Let’s fast forward a few decades to today. It’s hard to believe that it’s already time for your son or daughter to start driving.
Learning how to drive is a rite of passage for many teens. It’s the beginning of a new stage of life full of extra freedoms and responsibilities.
We all have mixed emotions about the teen driving years. Maybe you’re excited because your teen is finally able to chauffeur a little sibling around for you. Or perhaps you’re a little sad because you’re quickly realizing your child is growing up. You might also be fearful or stressed as you realize the dangers your teens will face on the road.
Some of these risks are financial. Speeding and parking tickets can be common for any driver. But in many states, the younger you are, the harsher your punishment will be. This means that your teen’s small mistakes behind the wheel can make a big dent in their (or your) wallet.
More importantly, your teen will also be at risk for getting hurt on the road. One small decision could lead to major injuries or worse.
The risk of motor vehicle crashes is higher among 16-19-year-olds than among any other age group (CDC). And tragically, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens (CDC).
We want to help prepare your teen for success as a young driver. Talk to your teen before they get behind the wheel alone. These conversations should cover your expectations. Tell them what you expect from them now that they get to be a driver.
One of the most important topics you cover should be drunk driving.
Remind your teen that it’s illegal to have alcohol while under 21. Make sure they also understand that drinking while driving is not only dangerous for them, but also for the other drivers on the road.
There are lots of other topics to include in your conversation too. Talk about distracted driving, texting and driving, speeding, and other risky behaviors. While these conversations may feel awkward at first, they’re important to have. The rules that you establish about each of these topics will impact your teens’ choices.
There are many ways you can help everyone in your family stay responsible behind the wheel. One creative and collaborative way may be to set up some family driver guidelines.
Get your family together on a Saturday afternoon and brainstorm safe driving practices. Out of that list, pick the ones your family thinks are most important. Then make a contract out of them.
Set each rule and establish a set of consequences for when they’re broken. These consequences may vary and there should be a good range for them. At the bottom of the contract, have everyone sign.
Feel free to frame the set of guidelines and hang it up somewhere that everyone can see it.
To help you get started, the team at Safe and Sober created the Safe and Sober Driver Guidelines with some of our suggested rules. Feel free to use our template, view the other suggestions, or get creative by making your own.