AHS Weekly Wellness: Teen Driver Safety

Driving is a risky experience for all of us but it is most risky for teenagers in their first year of unsupervised driving. Car crashes are the leading cause of death among teens in Alberta. Not all risk is bad; risk is a necessary part of healthy teen development. It is important that teens take Smart Risks when driving. For more information on the smart risk approach visit: http://www.albertahealthservices.ca/injprev/Page4880.aspx

Encourage your teen to look first. This means being prepared to drive, every time, by checking road conditions and mapping routes before they get into their car. It is also important to check tires, adjust seats and rear-view mirrors before driving. Remind your teen to buckle up, no matter how short the drive. It is the law. Teens can get trained by taking a driver’s education course from an unbiased expert who has years of experience teaching new drivers. Enforce with your teen that it is the law to drive sober. Set a rule against drinking and driving.

Aside from encouraging your teen to take smart risks when driving, there are many things you can do to help keep your teen safe:

  • Set a good example behind the wheel by modeling the smart risk behaviours above. Always wear your seatbelt, never speed and be respectful of other drivers and pedestrians on the road.
  • In addition to driver’s education, teach your teen how to drive under your supervision in low risk conditions before moving up to more risky situations.
  • Stay informed about Alberta’s Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) laws and start a conversation with your teen about it.

Using the Parent/Teen Driving Agreement with your teen can help you with all of these things. This agreement will help you start and keep an open, honest dialogue with your teen about their driving behaviour. It will also help you work together to set boundaries and build trust.