Parents, do you know the real reasons your teen drivers face such high levels of risk on the road?

Read on to find out some of the main driving dangers for teens and young drivers.

Helping your teen to be aware of these risks can help them to stay safe on the road and can help you to put the most appropriate rules in place to help your young driver be a safer driver for life.

It is a fact that young drivers do not have experience – and this is one of the reasons why crash figures are highest for young drivers in their first few months of driving.

What can I do as a parent to help?

  • Help your teen to gain as much supervised on-the-road experience as possible.
  • Practice driving at different types of day and night – including the times when your teen is likely to be driving once he or she is on their own. It may sound crazy but it can be worth practicing journeys in the early hours of the morning if this is when your teen is likely to be driving. Drivers face different risks at these times – such as an increased chance of encountering drunk drivers, pedestrians and other young drivers. Help them to prepare for these risks while under your supervision.
  • Supervise your teen while driving in different weather conditions, although it is always recommended to avoid driving completely when conditions are severe.
  • Help your teen to understand the risks posed by other road users, including other vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians and animals.

It is a fact that young people take more risks. This is partly down to the fact that parts of their brain do not fully develop until a certain age. It can also be down to other age-related factors such as peer pressure and showing off to friends.

What can I do as a parent to help?

  • Assess whether your teen is mature enough to drive. Just because they have reached the age at which they are able to apply for their permit it doesn’t mean they HAVE to. Use your own knowledge of your teen to assess whether he or she is ready.
  • Help your teen to understand why taking risks is not an option on the road – and introduce punishments if they do not comply.
  • Consider introducing Driver Telematics for your teen. Some insurance companies will now discount young driver policies if the vehicle is fitted with a black box. The black box records information such as speed, acceleration and cornering which is automatically sent back to the insurance company – if the teen drives well the cost of insurance can be reduced by around 50%. As well as saving money Telematics can improve safety by encouraging your teen to avoid dangerous behaviour.

Crash risk for teen drivers goes up when they have teenage passengers in the car with them. This can be down to the passengers encouraging dangerous behaviour but even if they don’t do anything it is thought that just their presence alone can have a negative impact on the way a teen drives.

What can I do as a parent to help?

  • Get to know your teen’s friends (if you don’t already).
  • Consider imposing restrictions on who is permitted to travel in the car with your teen.
  • Follow any country/State requirements for passenger restrictions. If this is not applicable to you, consider limiting the number of young passengers your teen can have.
  • The first six months of driving are particularly risky so consider restricting the number of young passengers to zero or one during this period.

Driving at night
Driving at night is riskier for any driver. For teens the risk is even higher.

What can I do as a parent to help?

  • Impose restrictions on driving during certain times, especially during the first six months of driving. Forbidden times may vary depending on your teen’s lifestyle (for example if your teen works at night) but a good rule of thumb is to avoid driving at times when most people would usually be asleep.
  • When you feel it is suitable to allow your teen to drive at night make lots of practice journeys (on routes your teen will be making) while you are also in the vehicle.

Distractions are a major problem for teens. Talking on a mobile phone, reading/writing texts or going online while driving means your teen is not concentrating on the road. Eating, drinking and smoking at the wheel is also a distraction. Changing the radio station/ CD/iPod also requires your teen to take their eyes of the road.

What can I do as a parent to help?

  • Make sure your teen understands the reasons why it is not safe to do ANYTHING else while driving. When in control of a vehicle your teen needs to be fully focused and must avoid anything distracting.
  • Make it clear that your teen must not engage in any behaviour that could distract their attention from the road. Encourage them to turn their phone off while driving – it can be a good idea to require teens to put their mobile phones out of reach so they cannot be tempted to have a glance. Encourage them to tune the radio/select their music/ program their satnav before setting off so they do not need to make adjustments during their journey.

Impaired driving
Impaired driving includes driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs or medication or driving when tired. Considering the risks teens face already, it is extremely dangerous for them to add to these risks through impairment.

What can I do as a parent to help?

  • Make sure your teen understands why it is so dangerous to drive while impaired.
  • Make sure your teen understands that just one drink of alcohol can impair their ability to drive, even if they are under the legal drink-drive limit.
  • Highlight the potential consequences of driving while under the influence.
  • Make sure your teen is aware that over the counter medications and prescription drugs can have side effects such as drowsiness.
  • Look out for any signs that your teen may be drinking alcohol or taking drugs. Being aware of their lifestyle and having an interest in where they are going and who with can help you to spot warning signs.
  • Make sure your teen does not drive if he or she has not had enough sleep. Research shows most teens need between 8.5 and 9.5 hours of sleep per night.
  • Make it clear that your teen must not drive ‘the morning after’ a night’s drinking.

Wearing a seatbelt is one of the simplest ways your teen can reduce his or her chances of being injured or killed in a road collision.

The National Highway Safety Traffic Administration has estimated that seatbelts reduce the risk of fatal injury to front-seat passenger occupants by 45% and the risk of moderate to critical injury by 50%.

What can I do as a parent to help?

  • Check that your teen is aware of the reasons why wearing a seatbelt is so important.
  • Make seatbelt wearing compulsory for your teen and any passengers in his or her vehicle.

Dangerous and careless behaviour
Because they have less experience on the road and less experience of other road users, teens often lack the judgment needed to assess risky situations.

For many people taking risks is all part of growing up and a way of learning what is right and wrong. But taking risks on the road is not an option. Unfortunately, teens do not always realise this – and sometimes push their driving ability and their vehicle to the limit.

What can I do as a parent to help?

  • Talk to your teen about the different risks associated with driving – including other road users, potential hazards, distractions, impairment, passengers etc. See our Driver Code of Conduct.
  • Talk to your teen about unacceptable behaviour such as speeding, running red lights, not keeping a safe distance, tailgating etc.
  • Set limits and make it clear how dangerous situations can be avoided.
  • Travel with your teen and praise them for demonstrating safe behaviour and not taking risks.

Within the ‘Parent’ section of this website you will find a Driver Code of Conduct which introduces the basic rules required for safe driving. It is recommended that, as a parent, you use this in conjunction with the One More Second Young Driver Safety Pledge to agree driving rules with your teen. It is advisable to make it clear EXACTLY what you expect from your teen before he or she takes to the road alone. You should also agree what punishments you will put in place if your teen is found to be breaking the rules.