How parents can prepare teens to drive safely in Kentucky

The worst phone call you ever receive may come from a police officer regarding your teen’s vehicle crash. If you are a parent with a newly licensed teen driver, the possibility of an accident can be a nagging thought.

As the parent of an adolescent driver, you are your child’s best advocate to learn safe driving and how to avoid crashes. Whether your teen operates a vehicle in a large city like Louisville or a small country town, your primary focus is on safe driving.

Statistics on juvenile driver accidents are worrisome

Your worries about safety exist for a good reason. The National Safety Council reports the following statistics:

  • Car accidents are the leading cause of death for teens.
  • There are 2 million newly licensed teen drivers under the age of 18 on the roads.
  • Drivers from 16 to 19 years old have the highest number of fatal crashes.
  • Night driving is involved in 40 percent of teen accidents.

Your level of participation in your son or daughter’s driving education is a critical factor in your teen’s ability to drive safely.

Warning your teen to be careful is not enough

A warning to be careful does not protect your son or daughter. You need to spend significant practice time with your teen driver behind the wheel. Unexpected traffic activity can be a feature of most roadways, and your inexperienced teen has not yet learned to sort out all the hazards.

Limit practice to daytime hours in good weather when traffic is sparse. Gradually increase the difficulty to less ideal road conditions. When you can legally do so, introduce your teen to night driving. Offer praise and encouragement. Use patience when you give corrections. Constructive feedback is often helpful for your teenager, while sharp criticism can make your teen a defensive driver—but not in a good way.

Always exemplify a good role model when you operate a vehicle. Do your driving skills need a tune-up? Your driving behavior may influence your teen’s attitude toward safe driving. Above all, remember that while driving is comfortable for you, it is a new and difficult challenge for your teenager.