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When it comes to driving, the best way for your teen to get better is to practice. Thanksgiving, however, is not the time to do it.
According to estimates from the National Safety Council, 417 people may be killed on U.S. roads this Thanksgiving holiday period, which runs from Wednesday night to Sunday evening. In addition to these deaths, another 47,500 people may be seriously injured in crashes.
Drivers on Thanksgiving face particular risks that teens – due to their inexperience – aren’t equipped to handle. As one of the busiest travel days of the year, there are bound to be plenty of tired drivers looking to arrive in time for their family meal. There is also likely to be less daylight, potentially bad weather and road conditions, and many impaired drivers, whether from fatigue, alcohol or other substances.
So, while we don’t recommend that new drivers get behind the wheel on Thanksgiving, these potential dangers do make it a good time to show your teen that, even on a busy day with lots of extra traffic on the road, safety is still a priority. Here are some tips to set a good example:
Pack the car securely. You may not be loaded down with presents, yet, but you’ll probably have plenty of items in the car with you, whether it’s a pie or a green bean casserole. Whatever you’ve got, use it to show your teen how to pack safely. Make sure everything is secure and won’t roll around while you’re driving.
Avoid distractions. A packed car means more opportunities for distractions. Let any passengers know not to pull your attention off of the road and stow your cell phone safely so your teen understands the danger of distracted driving.
Leave early, so you’re not rushed. Another great step is to give yourself plenty of time to arrive safely. Holidays are hectic enough, don’t make the drive stressful on top of it all. Leave time for stops, depending on how far you’re traveling, so that your teen learns to do the same.
Plan ahead. On this same thought, use Thanksgiving as an opportunity to teach your teen what a safe driving plan looks like. This involves checking the weather and the route ahead of time and letting your relatives know what time you expect to arrive, in case something goes wrong.
Your teen is always learning from you, so set the right example on the road. Use these tips to show your teen that safety never has to take a backseat.
DriveitHOME™ is an initiative of the National Safety Council, designed by and for parents of newly licensed teen drivers. DriveitHOME™ offers free resources parents can use to help their teen build experience to become safer drivers.
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