Okay, so there is one very obvious reason to talk to your teens about safe driving: to help ensure that they don’t get into accidents and end up injured, dead, or injuring and/or killing others (their passengers, other drivers and their passengers, etc.).
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has reported that motor vehicle accidents account for the leading cause of death in drivers age 15-20, with a whopping 35% of deaths for this age group attributed to crashes. And as anyone who has purchased insurance for a teen driver knows, the cost is far higher than it is for adults, largely because this age group is at such high risk for accidents.
Of course, your main goal is to keep your children safe when they get behind the wheel. But there are several other reasons why you should sit down with your teens to discuss the necessity for safe driving practices. Although they may not seem quite as important as keeping your kids alive and unharmed, they are still food for thought.
- Trauma. The CDC estimates that teen drivers (16-19) are four times more likely to be involved in automobile accidents than other age groups. And while statistical data from 2009 shows that approximately 3,000 teens were killed in such accidents, an alarming 350,000 ended up in the hospital as a result of a car crash. This means that your teens are far more likely to suffer from injury than death in an accident situation. Unfortunately, this could lead to physical issues that trouble them for the rest of their lives, or mental and emotional trauma that makes it difficult for them to participate in normal activities (like driving or even being driven). Unsafe driving simply isn’t worth the risks.
- Costs. Most parents can’t afford not to consider the costs associated with teen driving. Aside from the money you’re shelling out for insurance and other expenses, an auto accident could leave you with all kinds of bills. At the very least your insurance will go up, and you may have to pay for the cost of car repairs if your teen driver was at fault. But insurance only covers so much. You could also be on the hook for extensive medical costs for your own teen, passengers in his car, or people in other vehicles.
- Loss of license. Teens involved in accidents may lose their license for all manner of reasons like if they are found to have been drinking, texting, or engaging in other illegal activities. And multiple accidents could result in the loss of a license.
- Prosecution. Anyone involved in an auto accident may be subject to prosecution for some reasons. If for example, your teen is found to be under the influence of alcohol, prescription drugs, or controlled substances at the time of the accident, or if he is found to have engaged in criminal negligence, he could be facing criminal prosecution, especially if someone dies as a result. But nearly any accident could result in a suit in civil court.
- Permanent record. Any time your teen is involved in a collision, it will be reported to the DMV, either by authorities on the scene or by insurance companies. Unlike other types of legal records for minors, these infractions are part of the permanent record. Since many employers check a driving record, accident information will show up even years down the line. So not only could accidents result in death, injury, fines, and the need to seek new auto insurance, it could also impact you kids for the rest of their lives in myriad other ways that they might not even think of.