According to a New York Times article, American teenagers aged 16 and 17 years involved in fatal motor vehicle accidents outweighed death by suicide, cancer, and other accidents. Here in Canada the statistics are also pretty grim for teenage drivers. Transport Canada reveals, “Young drivers 16 to 24 years of age continue to be at higher risk of being killed in motor vehicle collisions per distance traveled than all other age groups”.
Statistics posted by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD Canada) disclose that motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among teenagers. They state that alcohol and/or drugs are a factor in 55% of the crashes between 16 – 25 year olds. Furthermore, according to MADD, “In nearly two-thirds of the alcohol-related multiple vehicle crashes, it was the fatally injured teen driver who had been drinking and not the other drivers”.
CAA reports there is a new campaign that will act as a starting point to launch conversations between teenagers and parents about how dangerous it is to drive while under the influence of drugs. Parents are encouraged to create a custom video through Drug Free Kids with their campaign The Call That Comes After, an intense yet effective way to send your kids a message about the dangers of high driving.
There are many helpful organizations that encourage and teach young drivers how to be safe on the road and the dangers of drugs and alcohol. Ontario Students Against Impaired Driving (OSAID) has 300 chapters and reaches over 30,000 students every year and addresses safety on the roads through education and awareness. This organization is a great resource and a positive way for teenagers to get involved in networking and inspiring their peers not to drive while impaired.
Once you, as parents or caregivers, are ready to let your teenager drive your car, assuming of course they have passed their driving test with flying colours and they are insured on your vehicle, here are a few other boundaries you may want to set before letting them get behind the wheel.
Drive with them
∙ Many parents/caregivers will feel more comfortable driving with their teen before allowing them to go out on their own. It’s the perfect opportunity for a family road trip – with your child at the wheel.
Discuss who pays for gas
∙ The last thing you want is to get in your car to drive to work only to discover there is not enough gas to get you there. Ensure the new eager driver in your home is familiar with whatever gas rules you want to incorporate, such as always keeping the tank 1/3 full, and that they must contribute financially to filling it up.
No cell phone use while driving
∙ Of course this should go without saying, after all it is extremely dangerous and illegal to text while driving, but it doesn’t hurt to go over “distracted driving” with them thoroughly, since chances are if they are driving your car they also have a cell phone in their possession.
No passengers until you approve
∙ Some parents/caregivers have a “no passengers” rule until they are comfortable their teenagers are responsible, other parents limit the number of passengers at any one time.
Have an emergency plan
∙ It’s always best to be prepared – discuss what to do in case of a driving emergency such as an accident or extreme weather conditions. Knowing you are there for them can help give teenagers the confidence and reassurance they need to be safe on the road.