Young adult drivers, such as those in their late teens and early twenties, are more prone to engaging in risky behaviors while driving. These dangerous behaviors can significantly increase the risk of accidents and injuries. Insurance companies have higher premiums for drivers under 25 for this reason, and many states are implementing laws to help keep teens and young adults safer on the road. For example, some states don’t allow drivers under 18 to have other teen passengers in the car unless they are on the way to school or with an adult. Here are some of the most dangerous young adult driving behaviors and tips on how to warn your child about them:
Driving Under the Influence
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs causes around a third of fatal car accidents yearly. Young adults may experiment with alcohol or drugs and sometimes make the poor decision to drive while impaired, which often leads to very terrible consequences.
Make sure your teens have an accurate perspective on drinking and driving. Have an open conversation about the dangers of driving under the influence. Encourage them always to have a designated driver or use alternative transportation if they are impaired, and let them know that you will always come and get them if they need you, no matter what they have been doing.
Driving while distracted causes thousands of car accidents each year. One of the most common and dangerous driving behaviors is using a phone while driving, whether for texting, calling, or using social media. Texting is more likely to cause an accident than drunk driving. Being distracted by a phone is very dangerous. Still, there are other ways to be distracted while driving, including being distracted by other passengers and things inside the car, such as changing the radio. Anything that diverts the driver’s attention from the road increases the risk of accidents.
Ensure you emphasize to your children the importance of putting their phones away while driving. Encourage them to use “do not disturb” settings on their phones or consider using apps that block incoming notifications while driving. Help them learn how to manage other forms of distraction as well, such as telling other passengers in the car to be quiet or setting the radio before they leave.
Speeding can kill because accidents at high speeds are often much more serious. Speeding reduces the driver’s reaction time and increases the impact of a crash. Young drivers may feel invincible and overestimate their driving abilities, leading to excessive speeding. In many cases, young drivers are also more inexperienced and less likely to pay close attention to their speed.
Remind your child to obey speed limits and encourage them to drive at a safe and reasonable speed. Explain the dangers of speeding and how it can lead to severe consequences. Many schools and law enforcement agencies work together to demonstrate the impact of crashes that happen at high rates of speed.
Reckless driving is common among new drivers, especially when they are away from their parents or driving with other teens or young adults. Sometimes, this results from showing off, while it can also be caused by bad driving habits or feelings of invincibility. Aggressive driving behaviors, such as tailgating, weaving in and out of traffic, or street racing, can be extremely hazardous.
Stress the importance of being patient and courteous on the road. Encourage your young adult to follow traffic rules and drive defensively to avoid potential accidents. Limit the time your teen spends driving with their friends or peers in the car, and make sure they are aware that others might influence their normal behavior at these times.
Driving while too tired can be another very dangerous habit. Drowsy driving can be nearly as deadly as driving while drunk. Young adults often have busy schedules and can feel invincible, and they may underestimate the dangers of driving while tired.
Talk to your teen or young adult about the risks of drowsy driving and the potential consequences of falling asleep at the wheel. Encourage them to get enough rest before long trips and to take breaks during extended drives. It might be useful to understand that many young adults enjoy late-night activities and feel more awake at night, which can lead to feeling tired in the daytime.
Peer pressure can cause changes in behavior in people of all ages. However, young adults may be more susceptible to peer pressure and take unnecessary risks while driving to impress friends or show off. Many teens are more reckless than their parents realize when they are not there to supervise.
Talk to your child about the importance of making responsible driving decisions and not succumbing to peer pressure. Encourage them to prioritize their safety and that of their passengers, and warn them that they may act differently around their friends without realizing it. Finally, help your teens see that the kinds of friends they choose to be with can impact their safety.
Failure to Wear Seatbelts
Seatbelts save lives. In most states, they are wearing a seatbelt while driving is against the law. However, some young drivers may neglect to wear seatbelts, even though they are one of a vehicle’s most effective safety measures. This can be influenced by a feeling of being invincible and by peer pressure.
Ensure that your children are in the habit of buckling up from when they are little. Emphasize the importance of wearing seatbelts at all times and set a good example by wearing yours. Talk about the statistics involved with seatbelts, and mention the high cost of traffic tickets.
Overall, having open and honest conversations about safe driving practices and the potential consequences of risky behaviors is essential. Encourage your child to take driving seriously and prioritize safety above all else. Additionally, consider setting clear rules and consequences for breaking them to reinforce responsible driving habits. Finally, start when your kids are young and model safe behaviors so they will be more likely to continue this into adulthood.