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Safety doesn’t get much simpler than a seat belt, but too often drivers and passengers fail to wear them with deadly consequences.
According to NHTSA, seat belts in passenger vehicles saved nearly 15,000 lives in 2016 alone. The problem is, teens are less likely to wear seat belts than any other age group and most teens killed in crashes aren’t buckled up. Fortunately, this is where you behavior – your role modeling – can have a direct impact.
Talking to your teen about the importance of wearing a seat belt is crucial, but nothing compares to setting the example yourself and always wearing a seat belt in the vehicle. You are the biggest influence on your teen’s driving habits and it applies to more than just buckling up in the driver’s seat.
A survey by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that many adults admitted not wearing a seat belt in the backseat, particularly on short trips or while using ride-sharing services. A single passenger failing to wear a seat belt in the backseat can jeopardize the safety of everyone in the vehicle, even if the others are properly buckled.
When your teen sees you fail to buckle up, it is too easy for them to justify doing the same. This is why you need to talk the talk and walk the walk. Anytime you drive, set the example so that your teen understands that every driver and passenger must wear a seat belt no matter where they are in the car and no matter how short or long the trip. It should become a habit for your teen to wait to begin driving until everyone buckles up. And if a driver or passenger needs a break to stretch their legs, teach your teen to pull over safely at a rest area or similar spot rather than letting the passenger take off their seat belt in the vehicle.
As your teen practices driving this summer, repeat this lesson and let them know that when it comes to seat belts, “But…I’m in the backseat,” is never an excuse.
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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