Make Safety a Year-End Tradition with Your Teen Driver

NSC estimates more than 800 people could be killed in motor vehicle crashes over the Christmas and New Year's holidays this year.

December 20, 2018

The year-end holidays are filled with family traditions. Whether it’s picking out and decorating a fresh tree, cooking up a festive family dinner or simply spending time with loved ones, our traditions are what make this the happiest time of the year. Unfortunately, this season also brings it with many roadway risks.

According to estimates from the National Safety Council, more than 800 people could be killed in motor vehicle crashes over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays this year. In addition to these deaths, the estimates show that nearly 100,000 others may suffer serious injuries on our roads.

Though this is a tragic – and entirely preventable – situation, it’s also a chance to create new safety traditions with your teen driver. One of the best things about teaching your teen to drive, after all, is the opportunity it gives you to instill in them safe habits which they’ll carry the rest of their lives. If you can teach your teen to always use a seat belt as soon as they get in the car, there’s a good chance this will become second nature for them. This time of year, when the days are shorter, the conditions are poor and there can be more impaired drivers on the roads, there’s no shortage of safe habits you can teach your teen. Here are a few to get started:

  • Make sure everyone buckles up. When you pick up a Christmas tree from the lot, you don’t drive home until it is securely fastened to the roof. Your teen should think of themselves and all passengers the same way. Though your teen shouldn’t drive with passengers for at least a year, eventually they will be shuttling people around and they should make it a tradition to always ensure everyone is buckled up before driving off.
  • Drive defensively. As a young driver, it’s easy to assume that everyone else on the road knows what they are doing and you only have to worry about your own decisions behind the wheel. But plenty of experienced, adult drivers drive while distracted or impaired every single day and your teen needs to be prepared to drive with them. Teach your teen to treat every day like New Year’s, when you expect more drivers to be impaired. This way, your teen will learn to always pay attention to other vehicles on the road and drive defensively.
  • Make thoughtful decisions with safety in mind. The same way you put effort into picking out a thoughtful gift for a loved one, help your teen make a tradition of keeping safety in mind on every ride. Whether it’s avoiding cell phone use or rethinking driving in bad conditions, teach your teen to put thought and care into every decision they make behind the wheel, the same way they would when choosing a special gift.

We look forward to our holiday traditions each year in part because of the smiles they bring to our faces. When you make safety a priority with your teen driver, you can carry these happy feelings with you all year long.

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