How to Guide Your Teen Down the Path to Driver Safety
Young, inexperienced drivers are far more likely to be involved in a serious or fatal vehicle accident. The NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) reports that 7 percent of fatal accidents involve teenage drivers, with 2,042 people dying in accidents with a teen driver in a recent year.
Novice drivers are more likely to speed, make errors, and are very easily distracted when their friends are in the vehicle. Parents with teenage drivers can help keep them stay safe while on the road with in-depth conversations about the do’s and don’ts of safe driving. The right guidance and directions can save a life. This process of educating a teen driver is not a “one-time” situation but will require constant attention.
The Risks of Teen Driving
Your young driver is thrilled to have reached driving age and is looking forward to driving to high school football games, Halloween parties, haunted houses, fairs, concerts, or any location. They love the idea of being independent and in control, but need to be informed, careful, and aware of the risks – that’s when parental guidance is of ultimate importance.
Young drivers are far more likely to engage in driving conduct that can lead to serious or fatal accidents, including texting while driving, drinking, speeding, or failure to use seatbelts. The NHTSA offers resources for parents to assist in this critical task. Young drivers absolutely must be made aware of the rules and be personally willing to follow every rule when driving.
- Distractions: As a parent, you must communicate that cellphone use is prohibited while driving. Train your child that to answer a phone or send a text will require that they pull over into a safe area in a parking lot.
- Passengers: It is advised that you do not allow your teenager to drive with any passengers until they have several years of driving experience. The more passengers in the vehicle, the more likely a teen driver will be distracted from the road ahead, so follow the Georgia regulations regarding passengers, or be even more strict if you choose.
- Speeding: Explain thoroughly to your son or daughter that speeding can lead to losing the right to drive, and that any speeding ticket will be their responsibility to pay, and that if it occurs, you may revoke their driving privileges. Ensure they fully understand that they must always follow the posted speed limits.
- Seatbelts: Teen drivers have been found to be most likely to drive without seatbelts. You must ensure they understand that seatbelt use is a critical point in safe driving.
- Alcohol and Drugs: As a parent, you need to ensure your child is willing to call you for a ride if they have consumed alcohol or drugs, or the driver of a vehicle they plan to ride in is intoxicated. Make it clear that calling home for a ride will not involve questioning or a punishment.
- Drowsy driving: Teen drivers must understand that driving while tired is unsafe, whether during the daylight or evening hours.
Georgia Teen Licensing Laws
In Georgia, we have a three-stage system:
- Learner Stage: This is the first learning phase, always supervised, culminating with a driving test.
- Intermediate Stage: The intermediate stage limits unsupervised driving under specific, more risky driving situations.
- Full Privilege Stage: A full standard driver’s license is achieved.
In the state of Georgia, full privilege driving is possible at age 18. The learner stage minimal age is 15, with a 12-month minimum duration. A teen driver is required to have 40 hours of supervised driving, along with 6-night driving hours. Intermediate drivers are restricted from nighttime driving between midnight and 5 am. For the first six months, a teen driver cannot carry any passengers. For the second six months, no more than one passenger under 21 is allowed. After that time, no more than three passengers are allowed.
Night Driving and Teens
Nighttime driving is restricted during the learner and intermediate driving stages, for good reason. Night driving is more difficult, and gaining experience requires time. Inform your child about the risks associated with nighttime driving, and ensure they practice driving in the dark hours as required in the learner stage. During the fall and winter months, it gets dark earlier, and the driving risks increase. Make night driving a point of discussion with your son or daughter.
Communication Tips for Parents of Teen Drivers
Teenagers are more likely to listen to a parent who is a good listener. Any authoritarian, angry, or over-emotional approach is likely to fail. When speaking about safe driving, get your son or daughter engaged in the conversation. Look up statistics on teen driving accidents together and talk about what you find. A conversation, to make an impact, is a two-way street, so be willing to listen, discuss, and set aside enough time to cover everything thoroughly.
Contact Grant Law Office at (404) 995-3955 if another driver caused your teenager’s car accident or if you or a loved one were injured or died in a car accident with a reckless teenager.
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