© 2010 Roy Benaroch, MD
Accidental death is the leading cause of mortality among teens, and most of those deaths occur in cars. Teenaged drivers are less experienced, and are probably more reckless behind the wheel. Is there anything parents ought to do to protect their kids?
A recent study looked at family styles and risky driving behaviors, and found some good clues. Teenagers were much safer—that is, reported less risky driving behaviors and about half as many accidents per driven mile—if parents restricted vehicle access, or made their children share cars. Kids whose parents had a more authoritarian style of parenting, with more rules and stricter curfews, were more likely to wear seat belts and less likely to talk on cell phones when driving. The riskiest behaviors were in teens who had free access to their own wheels, and whose parents took a “hands-off” approach.
So: keep an eye on your teens, and monitor their driving habits. Set expectations that they drive safely, with seat belts on and cell phones off.
Set a good example by driving safely yourself, too.
Cartoon: Thanks to Mike Luckovich from the AJC