Car Safety for Teens

In the United States, car accidents are the leading cause for death in teenagers. Although children age 13 and older may sit in the front seat of the car, it is important to move the seat back as far as possible to lessen the impact of the front air bag if it deploys in a crash. Parents and caregivers should make sure that teens wear their safety belt at all times whenever they travel in a car, and should set a good example by wearing their safety belt as well.

The following tips can help reduce the risk for a serious or fatal crash involving teenagers:

  • Parents should be good role models for teens:
    • Keep your cool with other drivers.
    • Respect posted speed limits.
    • Follow traffic laws.
    • Do not talk on your cell phone.
  • Consider enrolling your teen in an additional driving instruction program.
  • Know your state laws about curfews and passenger restrictions for teen drivers.
  • Limit unsupervised driving for the first 6 months after your teen gets his or her license (e.g., restrict teen passengers, night driving, and driving in adverse conditions).
  • Provide plenty of opportunities for your teen to practice driving with supervision:
  • Offer ample practice time under different conditions (e.g., parking lots, side streets, busy streets, highways, daytime, nighttime, light rain or snow)
  • Show patience to help your teen stay calm behind the wheel.
  • Write a contract with the help of your teen in regard to:
    • Dealing with expenses such as gas, maintenance, repairs, and insurance
    • Establishing consequences for dents, tickets, or accidents
  • Institute a zero tolerance policy for drinking and driving.
  • Continue to ride with your teen to monitor his or her progress.
  • Always know the people your teen is driving with.
  • Tell your teen never to ride with a driver who is impaired by alcohol or other drug use. Instead, instruct him or her to call you for a ride. Let your teen know that they can call you for a ride at any time.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 28 Aug 2008

Last Modified: 13 Oct 2011