As national teen drivers safety week is nearing its end, it had me thinking of the risks on the road and how this risk increases for young and new drivers. While it’s hard for me to get my head around it, my oldest daughter will be asking for the keys in a few short years. I look forward to her being able to drive herself to 6 a.m. swim practices, but like most parents, I also carry a sense of trepidation. I am anything but objective because in my every day practice as a personal injury lawyer, I have a front row seat to the devastation occurring on our roads.
We want our teens to have that positive driving experience but we are also worried if they will be safe on the road. So how can we get across the importance of safe driving to our teens?
Start a Conversation not a Lecture
When talking about driving with your teen, encourage them to lead the conversation. Have them share their excitement, and some of their fears. This is not about giving them a set of rules, but having an authentic discussion of what they think the risks are. Follow up the discussion, by asking what they and their friends are doing to make sure they are safe on the road.
Parachute Canada has done an amazing job of starting this conversation. Their main message is, “If you care about your best friends, please speak about distracted driving”. With a group of teen advocates, Parachute Canada is using Teen Driver Safety Week to encourage teens to spread the message of driving safely, with hashtags #practicesafetext and #bestfriendsforever and campaigns on Instagram and twitter.
Topics to Discuss to Keep your Teen Safe
- The Risk of Passengers
Start talking to your teen about the additional distractions of having passengers in the car. Whether asking to change the music or having conversations at a busy intersection, the risk of a car crash almost doubles with a passenger.
- Night Time Driving brings its own Set of Risks
Have a conversation about how limited visibility and fatigue brings its own set of dangers, and talk about ways to prevent the risks.
- Be that Back-Up Designated Driver for your Teen
Debunk the myth that a short drive is always a safe drive. Most accidents happen close to home.
- Model Safe Driving
If your teen sees you texting or speeding, they are more likely to do so themselves.
- Be their own Advocates
Encourage teens to get involved with programs like Parachute Canada, where teens are advocating for their own safety.
Let’s all work towards creating a new generation of aware drivers.! Begin the conversation at home, and encourage your teens to come up with safe driving plans with their friends. We can all be advocates for a safer road for everyone! And maybe if we’re lucky…we can enjoy an hour more of sleep while they drive themselves to early morning practice.
Author: Bill Teggart
Bill Teggart is a leading Ontario personal injury lawyer and has been included in Best Lawyers in Canada for five consecutive years. He represents people who have suffered severe injuries or lost a loved one in car accidents, snowmobile accidents and boating accidents.