Summer is almost over and it’s back to school for families across the country. When school bells start ringing, so do early morning alarm clocks as the new school year brings brand new schedules that require an adjustment from the entire family. Whether your teenager is starting high school, contemplating where they might apply to college or learning to manage the teenage anxiety shared by so many during their sophomore or junior years, it’s important to keep back-to-school safety in mind during this time.
As part of their ongoing effort to help raise awareness for teenage driving safety, Driving-Tests.org – a leading online educational learning site that offers free permit practice test services to US learner drivers – recently released a new Parent-Teen Safe Driving Contract, which is available for free download here.
You might be asking,”Why is a Parent-Teen Driving Contract necessary?”
Consider that conversations between parents and teens are often difficult. The discussion around handing over the keys to the car – and establishing ground rules and curfews with a newly licensed driver – can prove to be particularly challenging. Not only can a contract make it easier for parents to establish family rules as well as consequences for breaking them, it will also help to instill safe driving habits by emphasizing safety and good driving skills while also clarifying high risk driving situations.
Car accidents are still the leading cause of death for 15-20 year olds, accounting for almost 40% of all teen deaths. Helping your teenager learn how to be a safe, careful driver can make the difference in their survival behind the wheel. Although this parent-driver contract may seem rather formal, it should serve as a symbol of the great passage of knowledge that goes into learning how to drive. This contract might not hold up in a court of law; however, it is a binding pact between parent and teen that says “I’ll be a good teacher, if you be a good student.”
In addition to their new safe driving contract, Driving-Tests.org has also prepared 7 Back to School Safety Tips to help both parents and teens stay safer behind the wheel and maintain their focus on the road:
#1 – Catch Some ZZZ’s: Studies have shown driving while deprived of sleep can have the same hazardous effects as being intoxicated. Driving while tired can decrease reaction time, impair vision or judgment, and can increase the chances of getting into a car crash. Make sure you are prioritizing a good night’s rest when the school year begins.
#2 – Be the Early Bird: Teens are more likely than older drivers to underestimate dangerous situations and they have a harder time recognizing hazardous situations. Running late for school can put added pressure on stressed out adolescents; teens have less impulse control so being late can contribute to speeding, tailgating and weaving through traffic to make up for lost time. Try to leave ten minutes earlier than you need to and allow ample time for delays.
#3 – Buckle Up: At least 56% of young people between the ages of 16 to 20 years old involved in fatal crashes were unbuckled. Teens buckle up less frequently than adults do. Despite efforts aimed at increasing seatbelt use among teenagers, only about 80% of teens remember to buckle up. Everyone should wear a seatbelt at all times, even passengers; remember to buckle up today!
#4 – Curfews are Cool: According to the CDC, half of teen deaths from motor vehicle crashes occurred between 3 p.m. and midnight and 55% occurred on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. Set a curfew to ensure no unsupervised driving occurs after 10 p.m. even on the weekends when there are more cars – and more drunk drivers – on the road.
#5 – Limit Passengers: A teenage driver’s risk of an accident grows exponentially with each passenger added. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a teen’s crash risk increases by 48% with each additional passenger. During a teen’s first 12 months of driving, passengers should be prohibited from riding along with a new driver.
#6 – Ignition On, Cell Phone Off: Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for about 4.6 seconds. At 55 miles per hour, that’s like driving the length of an entire football field, blindfolded. Cell phone use should be banned among all drivers, and parents should lead by setting a good example. Just remember this simple rule: ignition on, cellphone off!
#7 – Zero Tolerance for Drinking and Driving: Nearly one million teens drank alcohol and got behind the wheel in 2011. Even though every state has a “zero tolerance” law for underage drivers parents should still emphasize the dangers of drinking and driving; consider using a safe driving contract to open the lines of communication and establish clear guidelines.
Download a free copy of Driving-Tests.org “Parent Teen Driving Contract” here.
About Driving-Tests.org: Driving-Tests.org is a leading online educational learning site that offers free permit practice test services to US learner drivers. Since 2010, Driving-Tests.org has issued 4.5+ million practice permit tests; and, 250,000+ Americans use their practice tests every month. Each practice test is based on the current year’s official Driver’s Manual so every learner driver can be sure they are receiving the most up-to-date test questions.