Am I Being a Helicopter Parent? How Parents Can Keep Teenagers Safe On the Road

Your 16-year-old daughter just got her driver’s license, and now she’s asking you for the keys to the car for the first time. She wants to drive to the Town Square to hang out with her friends before going to see a movie.

It’s an exciting moment in a teenager’s life: you remember how it was for you. A driver’s license was, and still is, a rite of passage toward a world of greater independence and more possibilities. But right now you’re a parent, and so many thoughts and emotions are running through your head.

“There are so many crazy drivers out there. Will she be safe?”

“Will she keep her eyes off her phone and on the road?”

“Will she remember to look both ways before turning?”

Before handing over the keys, there are a few things you should discuss with your teenager about driving safely. Let’s take a look at four of them.

  1. Put away the phone while driving

One out of every four motor vehicle crashes in the United States is caused by distracted driving, which most of the time is a euphemism for driving while using a smartphone. Stress the importance of putting the phone away while driving. As a parent, make sure that you set a good example by storing or powering off your own phone whenever you’re behind the wheel.

  1. No drinking and driving

For inexperienced drivers, even one drink is a recipe for disaster. Offer your teenager a pass on explaining what happened if he or she calls you whenever drinking is a factor. This gives your teenager the ability to get out of a bad situation without worrying about your wrath or “getting in trouble.” Wouldn’t you rather they call you and them get home safe than have them drive or get in a car with one of their drunk friends?

Warn your teen drivers against the dangers of getting behind the wheel while impaired, and set a good example by refusing to drink and drive yourself. Statistics suggest that teenagers who have seen their parents drive while intoxicated are three times more likely to do the same.

  1. Extra passengers call for extra vigilance

Remind your teenager that the more passengers they have in their car, the more distractions they face, such as talking, loud music, and reaching for something in the car. While it’s not realistic for a car full of young people to remain silent the entire time, your teen must appreciate that they have a responsibility to get everyone home safely.

  1. Refrain from night driving until they have more experience

Driving at night is more demanding and difficult because high levels of attention and concentration are required. It can take a while for a teen driver to develop this level of sustained focus. According to a University of Michigan study, teenagers are four times more likely to be killed in a car crash at night. In communities where a curfew is in place, the fatality rate for teenage drivers has gone down by 25%.

Discussing safe driving practices with your teenager before they take their first solo spin doesn’t make you a helicopter parent. Far from it. You are giving them the tools they need to make good decisions and drive responsibly. Even so, there is always the possibility that your child may one day be involved in a motor vehicle collision, no matter how carefully they drive. If that happens, we are here for you.

We will review the circumstances of the crash, explain the law as it applies to your case, and protect your rights—and those of your child—if the other driver’s insurance company fights your claim. We will use our dedicated legal knowledge and personal injury claims experience to navigate any challenges and get you the results you need.

At the law office of Pérez Halpern LLC, we provide strong and dedicated support for personal injury clients throughout Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. To schedule a consultation, contact us today!

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