Tips for Parents: The Car Talk with Teenagers

Teen Driver

Giving a 16-year-old their first set of car keys can feel like one or both of you just went skydiving without a parachute. As a parent, you’re relinquishing a certain amount of control when your child climbs behind the wheel. And that can be terrifying.

Car accidents are the number-one cause of death among teens in the U.S., so when it comes to driving, the majority of parental fears are warranted. It’s also important to remember to communicate the seriousness of the sudden responsibility. The experts at Trico Products are committed to making teen driving safer and encouraging parents to have a sit-down discussion with their children before they start driving.

To help make that conversation a little easier to navigate, TRICO has provided a road map of important points:

  • Seatbelt – Teenagers are more likely to shuffle through their iPod in search of a suitable playlist before they think about putting on their seatbelt. Be clear that fastening your seatbelt should be the very first thing you do before keys are even in the ignition.
  • Texting – There are enough distractions outside of the vehicle, so explain the importance of paying strict attention to the road at all times. Cell phones, music and passengers can be huge distractions, especially texting on your cell. Every second a teen takes their eyes of the road could be an opportunity for a terrible accident.
  • Drinking and driving – Make it known that no one under the age of 21 should be drinking. But teens will be teens, so emphasize the necessity of always having a designated driver. Make sure they understand it’s never too late to call for a ride home.
  • Defensive driving – New drivers should be hyper-sensitive to all surroundings, since they’re still developing basic skills and habits. Teach teenagers to watch out for other drivers and be aware of their reactions to avoid collisions.
  • Penalties – Discuss the fines associated with tickets, share a personal experience you had getting a ticket and sitting in traffic court. Let them know they will be responsible for any monetary repercussions or other consequences.
  • Roadside emergencies and maintenance – Go over what to do and whom to call in an emergency. Do they have roadside assistance and insurance information readily available? Make sure they know not to lose that information—it’s best to always keep it in the car. Introduce them to basic car maintenance, too, by taking them along for regular oil changes, tire rotations and inspections. That way, they can start scheduling their own appointments when necessary.


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