When you’re part parent, part driving instructor, here are ways you can help your teen stay safe behind the wheel
We get it — talking with your teenager can be tough, especially when it’s to offer them advice. But when it comes to driving, it’s critical that you do.
With 16- to 19-year-old drivers at a higher risk of a fatal car crash than any other age group, it’s more important than ever to instill good driving habits at an early age. And with driver’s ed classes becoming harder to find and more costly to access, parents need to take an active role in getting their teen drivers off to a safe start.
To prepare yourself to talk with your teen, here are three of the biggest dangers for new drivers that you should keep in mind:
- Speeding: Teens — and especially boys — are more likely to speed and keep less distance between them and the vehicle ahead.
- Distracted driving: Whether it’s texting, talking or eating, many of us are guilty of actions that take our focus off the road, but this is especially an issue for young beginner drivers.
- Inexperience: Let’s face it, teens are more likely than adults to make poor decisions that may lead to a crash.
So, what can you do as a parent to help your teen become a better, safer driver?
Put your foot down
There’s no doubt that speeding leads to danger. In 2019, 31 percent of male drivers and 17 percent of female drivers ages 15 to 20 years who were involved in fatal crashes were speeding.
Help your teen driver by letting them know their lead foot can lead to consequences. Set rules and serious repercussions for getting a speeding ticket. And make sure you follow through to show you mean business. Also, insist they wear a seat belt at all times and always set a good example yourself; buckle up before putting the key in the ignition.
And pay attention to your own driving habits. “When I have a teenager and they’re speeding on the first and second lessons, I ask them, ‘All right — which one of your parents is a speeder, mom or dad?’” says driving instructor Sheryl Alpern. “If they see you do it, they’re going to do it as well.”
You can also get some help from your car. In properly equipped Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac vehicles, Teen Driver Technology,* a built-in teaching tool, helps parents coach their teen driver by allowing them to set speed warnings, limit the maximum vehicle speed and more. There’s even tech that won’t allow your teen to shift into drive until their seat belt is buckled. And the in-vehicle report card makes it easy to track your teen’s driving performance and identify problem areas.
Help your teen driver stay safe
Learn about resources that can help you educate your teen about safe driving behaviors.
A 2019 national Youth Risk Behavior Survey revealed that 39 percent of U.S. high school students had texted or e-mailed while driving at least once in the last 30 days before the survey.
The “always on” lifestyle of a teenager can have serious consequences. The pressure to respond immediately to texts and notifications is why texting is one of the most common driving distractions. So, take the temptation away. Get them in the habit of turning off the phone before driving. They can always turn it back on and send a text when they arrive. And do your part. No matter how tempted you are, never text your new driver when they’re in the car.
Teach, teach, teach
Learning to drive doesn’t happen overnight. Like everything in life, practice makes perfect. Parents play a crucial role in making sure teens stay safe behind the wheel through monitoring and constant reminding. Continue to talk about safe driving habits, drive with your teen, reward good behavior and punish bad behavior with consequences. Experience is the best teacher of all, so help them adjust their behavior and learn their lesson.
Give them a Guardian
Even when you can’t be there to help keep your teen driver safe, OnStar* can. The OnStar Guardian® app* lets your teen take OnStar safety services with them, even if they don’t drive an OnStar-equipped vehicle — or when they’re riding in a friend’s car. The app includes Mobile Crash Response, which uses your phone’s sensors to detect a crash and alert an Emergency Advisor,* as well as Location Status,* which lets up to seven family members* share their locations with one another.
By having the right talk with teenagers early, and establishing safe driving habits, starting them on the road to responsible driving should be a smooth ride.