As a parent, you do a lot of things to keep your children safe and healthy. If you’re the parent of a licensed teen, educating your child about driver safety is one of the most important things you can do. That’s because car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens between the ages of 15 and 18.
In 2015, car crashes killed 2,333 teens between the ages of 16 and 19, according to the CDC. That same year, car crashes sent 235,845 teens in this age group to the emergency room. Teens’ inexperience puts them at risk, but parents can make a difference.
Graduated license programs restrict new teen drivers to keep them safe.
In recent years, states throughout the United States have developed graduated license programs that place restrictions on new teen drivers. A study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration concluded that these programs were successful in reducing the fatal crash rate of 16-year-olds by 20 percent.
Parents should take time to understand their state’s program and help their teen drivers follow the rules.
In New York, teens usually have a junior license until they turn 18, but 17-year-olds can meet the requirements needed for a senior license. The restrictions for teens with a junior license vary depending on the region. See the New York State DMV for more details, but these are some of the highlights:
- Teens with a junior license are not allowed to drive in the five boroughs of New York City.
- Teens with a junior license can drive in Long Island only if they are being supervised by an acceptable adult, or for approved purposes.
- In Upstate New York, teens with a junior license cannot drive between 9:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. unless they are commuting to a job or school course or are being supervised by an acceptable adult. Even during the day, the number of non-related passengers under age 21 is limited to one, and everyone must wear a seat belt.
In New Jersey, restrictions are placed on drivers between the ages of 16 and 20 with a probationary license. These drivers cannot drive between 11:01 p.m. and 5 a.m., use a cell phone, use any hand-held device or transport more than one passenger other than the driver’s children unless a parent or guardian is in the car.
Contracts can help set clear expectations.
Does your teen know exactly what’s expected? The best way to make sure parents and teens see eye-to-eye is to spell everything out in a written contract.
The CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics offers one such contract. It covers promises that the teen is expected to uphold, as well as the parents’ commitment to be a good role model, and it includes space for additional promises and restrictions, so families can modify it to their needs.
The TEENS program lets parents monitor their teens.
If your teen gets in trouble on the road, you want to know about it. New York State offers the Teen Electronic Event Notification Service (TEENS) program, a voluntary program that informs parents about tickets, accidents and other events involving their teen. Parents can participate in the program until their teen turns 18, and there is no cost to enroll.