Car crashes—the #1 killer of teens—take about 3,000 young lives every year. As a parent, you should know that the main cause of teen crashes is driver inexperience. All new drivers—even straight-A students and “good kids”—are more likely than experienced drivers to be involved in a fatal crash.
This week is National Teen Driver Safety Week with the theme ‘Share, Not Scare.’ Although graphic reenactments of car crashes and other tactics may get a teen’s attention, they may not be the best way to change behavior over the long haul. Instead, motivate a teen by communicating the benefits of safe driving.
Here are some tips from teendriversource.org, a team of researchers, educators, and communicators from the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute, to get you started:
- Focus on the positive. Talk about positive behaviors like always wearing a seat belt and being a good passenger instead of focusing on what teens should not be doing.
- Engage rather than offend. Get your friends involved in creating a NTDSW campaign at your school that promotes the benefits of safe behaviors. Positively structured learning experiences have a much greater chance of motivating people to choose safe, smart behaviors. For campaign ideas, visit ridelikeafriend.org.
- Empower rather than scare. Teens want to do the right thing and be a part of the solution. Reaffirm their positive instincts by celebrating safe driving and passenger behaviors.