How to Crash-Proof Your Teen Driver

Ask any young teen what he or she most looks forward to and most of they will say: “The day I can start driving.” Unfortunately, parents don’t feel the same way about their children driving – and for good reason. More than 3,500 teens die each year in teen driven vehicles, nationwide. That’s an average of 10 a day.

The crash rate per mile driven for 16-19-year-olds is four times the rate for drivers 20 and older, according to statistics from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety. The risk is highest for 16-year-old drivers. The reason for these alarming statistics is not hard to understand. Inexperience coupled with poor judgment is a recipe for disaster. That said, there is no reason to be unnerved. Here are a few useful tips to crash proof your teen driver.

Lay down the rules:

As a parent, you need to get ahead of the state. Their rules aren’t strong enough to keep your child safe. Do not allow your teen to get a full license at age 16 no matter how responsible your child may be. Stretch out the learner’s permit period until at least age 17.

Driving at night:

According to a 2003 IIHS report, driving between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. triples the risk of a fatal car accident for 16-year-old drivers. All drivers face increased risks after dark, but teens lack the experience to handle the effects of fatigue and limited visibility. Additionally, most accidents where alcohol is a factor occur at night.

Driving with other teen passengers:

The risk of a fatal crash doubles when a teen driver has a teen passenger. When there are three or more passengers, the risk is even higher due to distractions in the vehicle. Teens are also more likely to speed and to drive recklessly around their peers.

Getting it all in writing:

Use a teen driver contract, which can be downloaded free from the AAA Web site. By having both parents and the teen sign a written agreement, you will make your child understand that driving is not his or her birthright. Getting behind the wheel is a privilege earned and retained by exhibiting responsible behavior.

Driver’s Education:

Your teen may look down on driver’s ed classes, but make it mandatory if he or she wants to drive. There is nothing like hands-on training. The experience, knowledge, and skill they will gain from this class are invaluable.

Pick a safe car for your teen:

Don’t worry about maneuverability. Buy a mid- to a large-size car that will keep your teen safe in the event of a crash. Do your research before you buy. Check the vehicle’s safety features, track record, and crashworthiness.

Keeping tabs on your teen driver:

According to, research has shown that teens behave differently in cars when parents are not around. Seatbelt use plummets to less than 40 percent. Technology is on the side of parents, with options for in-car cameras and other real-time tracking devices. Remember, you are your child’s parent, not their best friend.


Leave a Reply