Is your teen road ready? Tips for coaching a new driver
Kentucky currently has one of the highest teen crash rates in the nation. Read on to learn how you can help them stay safe behind the wheel.
Did you know that Kentucky currently has one of the highest teen crash rates in the nation? According to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, teenage drivers account for only six percent of the state's driving population, and yet, they are involved in about 18 percent of fatal crashes in Kentucky. The risk of a crash is highest at age 16, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
KFB Insurance believes that parents can have a positive influence on the effectiveness and safety of teenage driving. Here are nine ways that the IIHS recommends parents can help keep their teen drivers safe behind the wheel:
- Don’t rely solely on driver education courses. The training offered by driver’s education instructors is extremely valuable for learning the way an automobile should be operated, but it cannot be relied upon as the sole way to produce safe drivers. Teenagers’ tendencies to seek thrills and take risks may lead to poor decision-making when they are behind the wheel of a car. Parents must be involved in the driver training process and share their own wisdom and experiences so that their children recognize what is truly at risk whenever pulling out into traffic.
- Know the law. Parents need to know not only general driving laws, but also the additional restrictions placed on young drivers – then parents need to do their part in enforcing them. For a quick look at the regulations in place for teen drivers by state, click here. For the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s summary of the state’s graduated licensing law, click here.
- Restrict night driving. According to IIHS research, the greatest number of teen drivers’ fatal crashes occurs between 9 p.m. and midnight. As most teen driving that occurs during this time of day is recreational, many more distractions are typically present.
- Restrict passengers. Multiple teens riding in a vehicle together with another teenager behind the wheel is often problematic and can result in the temptation to exhibit riskier driving behaviors than usual. The IIHS’s studies have shown that the presence of passengers increases crash risk among teenage drivers but decreases crash risk among drivers ages 30 and older.
- Supervise practice driving. Parents need to be involved in the driver training process and supervise a variety of situations as teens learn to drive. As teen drivers increase their skills, parents should offer them supervised opportunities to drive at night, in heavy traffic or on the highway – not leave these more difficult situations to be solely taught by others.
- Remember that you’re a role model. Children of all ages watch their parents to learn from the example set before them, and teens do much of the same when it comes to developing driving habits. Parents who want teens to drive safely must first set a good example and drive safely themselves.
- Require safety belt use. Even if teens regularly buckle up when riding or driving in a car with parents, don’t assume that the same thing occurs when they drive alone or when they are out with friends. Insist that teen drivers wear seat belts at all times.
- Prohibit driving after drinking. It must be clearly communicated that it is both illegal and extremely dangerous for teenagers to drive after drinking alcohol or using any other drugs. Even small amounts of alcohol are impairing to teenagers.
- Choose vehicles with safety, not image, in mind. While many teens dream of owning a sports car with flashy finishes for their first vehicle, parents should think first about safety and shy away from models that might encourage riskier driving habits. In the event of a collision, ensuring new or young drivers are in a vehicle with capable safety features is far more important than what a car or truck looks like.
This is not an exhaustive list of recommendations, but the common theme among them all is parental involvement. While accidents can occur at any time and for any number of reasons, Kentucky Farm Bureau Insurance encourages parents of teens to take the steps necessary to help teens be safety conscious whenever they sit in the driver’s seat.