A three point seat belt in a Lincoln Town Car. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Reaching legal driving age and passing the exam is one of the most exciting and momentous events in life. Being a free teenager is exhilarating and liberating. As a parent, this time is one of the most frightening times you’ll endure in your child’s life.

Auto accidents are the leading cause of death among teens from ages 13 to 19. There are several things as a parent you can teach your teen and several things as a teen driver you can do to stay safe.

Maintain the Car

Teens learning to drive are at enough risk without a car that doesn’t work properly. Ensure tires have ample tread and are properly inflated. Check fluids regularly and test brakes for stopping ability. Keep windows clean; glare from the sun or headlights on dirty glass can blind a driver. Keep mirrors clean; drivers won’t be able to use mirrors correctly if vision is hampered by dirt and debris.

Drive Sober

Never drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Avoid costs from legal fees, DUI Lawyers, and court costs, but stay alive and breathing to. Nearly 40 percent of all alcohol related fatalities were teenagers. Additionally, 60 percent of teens killed in crashes were under the influence.

Buckle Up

Seat belts aren’t always comfortable and cool, but they do save lives. Over 50 percent of teens killed in auto accidents weren’t wearing seat belts. Never take more passengers than there are seat belts for. Not only do seat belts save lives, they save faces too. During a crash passengers and drivers shoot forward on impact if not belted in. Windshields, dashboards, and other passengers do serious damage to a body. Imagine living with a severely scarred face forever.

Stay Focused

Limit the amount of passengers in the car. Teen death rates increase with each additional passenger. In fact, 60 percent of all teen deaths occurred when another teen was behind the wheel. Chit chat and rough-housing have no place in a car and have deadly consequences. Mobile phones are an unbelievable distraction to drivers of all ages, but more so to teen drivers. Hand-held devices cause more teen deaths than alcohol. Cell phones should be put away and turned off during driving. Keep music and conversation at a minimum. When a driver focuses on music or chit chat, she is 40 percent less likely to watch the road.

Slow Down

Speeding isn’t safe for anyone, not the speeder or those he puts in danger. Boys are more likely to speed than girls and statistics reflect that fact. Almost 40 percent of teen boys killed in car crashes were speeding. Speeding vehicles are harder to control, and drivers can lose control quickly. Driving doesn’t have to be dangerous. By staying alert, wearing a seat belt, and driving sober, teens will stay safer behind the wheel.

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