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How parents can help keep their teen drivers safe

If you have a teen driver in the family (particularly if it's a son), you know how expensive it is to get auto insurance for them. That's because statistics show that teen drivers are the most likely age group to be involved in car crashes.

Vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death among teens. However, they're even more likely to kill others when they're behind the wheel.

While these high insurance rates are no fun for parents, their primary concern is keeping their kids safe. Following are a number of recommendations for parents of teen drivers:

  1. It may be tempting to buy your teen the cheapest car you can find, but that car may lack important safety features. You should ensure that they drive a car that has safety equipment including electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes and front as well as side air bags.
  2. Install equipment that monitors the safety of your teen's driving by keeping track of the car's speed, whether the brakes are suddenly applied and whether seat belts are being used. There are apps and other technologies that let parents know if teens use their phones while driving or engage in other unsafe behavior. Some even limit or prevent such behaviors by, for example, restricting how fast they can drive.
  3. Put a "driving contract" into place with your teen. Most of these detail things like prohibiting the use of their phone while behind the wheel and drinking or drug use as well as limiting the number of passengers they can carry. (Having multiple young passengers in the car is one of the leading causes of distracted driving for teens.)

While you're discussing your expectations with your teen, it's a good time to reinforce the dangers of underage drinking. Driving after drinking (or getting in a car with someone who has been drinking) causes too many teen deaths on the road.

Even when teens are fortunate enough to avoid injuring themselves or anyone else when they drive under the influence, they can find themselves facing charges of DUI and underage drinking that can impact their future well into adulthood. That's why it's essential for parents to take these charges seriously and seek experienced legal guidance.

Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, "Teen Driving," accessed Oct. 18, 2017

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