Sunday, July 26, 2009

3 Rules for New Drivers

(From Good housekeeping July 2009)
I know my son is a long way off from driving, but the rules for safe driving can apply to parents too. I've lost family members to alcohol related accidents and I've seen neighborhoods kids get thrown from cars and die, along with high school classmates who didn't buckle up and follow the rules.

BRAKE TO CONSIDER THIS: Auto accidents are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens, accounting for more than one in three deaths. So outline your safety expectations — and the consequences — up front by creating a contract with your teen.
Experts at Allstate say driving pacts can initiate potentially lifesaving conversations between parents and teenagers. Here are points to include on yours:

Silence Cell Phones
Chatting on a mobile gives a driving teen the reaction time of a 70-year-old. Agree that your kid will never talk or text.

Limit Late-Night Cruising
New licensees are twice as likely to crash at night (9 p.m. to 6 a.m.) as during the day, so set an early curfew.

Start Solo
One teen passenger doubles the risk of a teen's getting into a fatal crash. Decide that your kid won't chauffeur pals.

Take It Slow
Speeding accounted for 44 percent of fatalities among 15- 20-year-olds in 2005. Make sure your child knows the speed limits in your area. And remember to abide by them, too, so you're a positive role model.

Always Buckle Up
Seat belts can lower the risk of dying in a car crash by 45 percent, so agree that they are a must, even for short spins around the neighborhood.

Absolutely No Alcohol
No tolerance for drinking and driving seems obvious, but still write it on the contract so your expectations are crystal clear. The stats are sobering: Approximately 25 percent of fatal teen crashes in 2005 were caused by drunk driving.

You can download a blank parent-teen contract from Allstate.

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