Parents of Chicago teenagers know the stress that results when their children begin driving. Today's technology and its potential for causing distracted driving often produce more anxiety. That is why it is extremely important that parents talk to their teenagers about the importance of being a responsible driver.
Research shows teenagers listen to their parents, even if they appear not to. Even before a teenager becomes a licensed driver, parents should emphasize that driving is a privilege. They should make sure their children know how important it is to be a safe driver and avoid behaviors that could cause motor vehicle accidents.
Parents need to also practice what they preach by driving safely and responsibly when a child is in the car. This practice should be followed at all times, even before a child reaches driving age.
Once a teenager becomes a licensed driver, it is essential that parents establish ground rules and clear consequences that are enforced every time the rules are broken. This helps reinforce the benefits of driving safely.
Although specific rules will vary, forbidding alcohol while driving is imperative. Teenagers should be taught early on the dangers of drinking and driving. Wearing seat belts is often another major rule. Parents who wear seat belts at all times will teach their children that it is essential to being a safe driver.
Cell phone use, particularly texting, causes a large number of fatal accidents involving teenagers. Parents should forbid talking on the phone and texting while driving, except for in emergencies.
Punishments may also vary. Violation of minor rules such as curfew could result in suspension of driving privileges for a certain period of time. If one of the major rules, such as drinking and driving, is broken, it is not unreasonable to ban all driving privileges entirely.
Getting a driver's license and beginning to drive is often an exciting experience for a teenager. By setting clear and definite rules and enforcing punishments when they are broken, Chicago parents will raise safe and responsible drivers.
Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, "Teen Drivers - Parents and Teens"