According to the AAA, teen drivers between ages 16 and 17 are most likely to get into fatal car accidents Monday through Friday between 3 and 5 p.m. The rate of fatal car accidents during these hours is just as high as the rate of accidents between 9 p.m. 2 a.m on weekend nights. These accidents often lead to not only fatalities but also to serious injuries, including brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, broken limbs, permanent injuries, disfigurement, burn injuries, and much more.
The University of Maryland’s Deparment of Public Community and Health suggests that to prevent these after-school accidents, parents can:
1) Show good driving skills themselves. Young drivers often learn by example, so parents who are courteous and careful drivers themselves are more likely to instill these same values in their own children.
2) Sign their young drivers up for defensive driving classes and additional driver training. More time with an experienced instructor means more skills on the road. Defensive driving classes are especially useful because they teach drivers to anticipate problems and be react before an accident occurs.
3) Set rules for driving. Parents can and should lay out rules for driving. Rules can include such guidelines as “no drinking and driving,” “everyone in the car must always be buckled up” or “no teenage passengers after class for six months.” Teens should be aware that when these rules are broken they will lose their driving privileges. Parents should also prevent teens from driving in high-risk conditions, such as driving at night or in poor weather.
4) Make teens responsible for their own tickets if they are caught breaking the law. Teen drivers may rethink their attitude about not wearing seatbelts, for example, if they have to pay a fine with their own spending money for the whim.
5) Encourage teens to stay calm with aggressive and angry drivers. Anger behind the wheel can cloud the judgement of any driver. Never allow an upset teen to get behind the wheel of a car.
6) Take teens on new routes with an experienced driver. If a teen is heading to a job interview, for example, tag along for the drive to note any potential road hazards and to allow the teen to get familiar with a new route.