Massachusetts teenagers are understandably eager to start driving on their own once they get their licenses. You have probably already seen an eye roll from your son or daughter when you mention the dangers of speeding or texting and driving. Although telling a teen to be careful may feel futile, repetition can reinforce the message. Teens may not be aware of some driving risks, or they fail to realize in the moment when they have drifted into risky behaviour. Help them keep the following dangers in the forefront of their minds.
Some teens wear sleep deprivation as a badge of honour as they boast about staying up all night to complete homework. Extracurricular activities, part-time jobs, and sports like make for a demanding schedule for our teens. This means that they may be too tired or distracted by stress to drive safely.
Tired drivers may have slower reactions or fail to notice things altogether. A teen who would otherwise drive competently could make an error and get into a motor vehicle crash. Point out to your teen when and how exhaustion is impacting their abilities.
Follow junior operator restrictions
Massachusetts has junior operator restrictions for teens under 18 during the first six months after licensure. They cannot drive with other people under 18 except for family members. This rule arises from the fact that passengers, especially fellow teens, can distract young drivers. One passenger doubles the crash risk. Two passengers triple the crash risk. Three or more passengers push up the danger of accidents by a factor of six.
Texting is hard for teens to resist
Although your teen may know that texting and driving is unsafe, young people have a strong desire to respond to texts or notifications immediately. A chime of the phone in the car is very likely to pull a teen’s eyes away from traffic. Remind your young driver often that this is one of the worst things to do behind the wheel. Encourage teens to keep their phones in their backpacks or glove compartments while driving. Another option is to recommend that they phone be silenced when driving.
Finally, we all know that children and teens learn from observing adults. Model safe driving at all times when you are behind the wheel. This includes only using hands-free options for taking calls (if you must take a call), and never texting while driving, or diverting your attention from the road to your phone. This may be on of those areas where kids learn more from what we do than what we say!