Earning a driver’s licence is just the beginning of young adults on their way to becoming safe and responsible drivers. It’s National Teen Driver Safety Week and police are asking parents and their caregivers to be aware seven “red flags” that could help them determine if their teen is safe behind the steering wheel.
“Getting insight into how your child drives is a challenge since we know people are more diligent when someone that loves them is watching,” says Col. Matthew C. Packard Chief of the Colorado State Patrol. “This list provides a few common indicators to help parents determine when they should have a meaningful conversation with their child, and perhaps put away the keys until trust is restored. As tough as it is to be a parent, it’s crucial for parents to stay involved because we are aware that the first few years behind the wheel could be dangerous as new drivers get experience.”
In the time that the Colorado State Patrol looked at the three years that had the most fatal and injury crash data (2019-2021) for at-fault drivers between 16-21 years old, the top crash causal factors were:
- Distraction – not paying attention to driving
- Exceeding a legal and safe speed
- Lane violation – traveled out of the lane designated for it
- Impaired driving
- Failure to yield right-of-way
In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that drivers who are younger than 20 years old are three times more likely to be in a car crash then all other drivers. So how can a parent know when to be concerned?
Seven Warning Signs
- She/he always has a friend or two at the wheel. Your teenager might argue that carpooling is beneficial for the environment as it can save gas money, but driving with other passengers increases the chance of getting into an accident.
- Colorado GDL Laws state that for the first six months, there must be no passengers under 21 (siblings as well as medical emergencies exempted), unless a parent or other licensed adult over 21 is in the vehicle .
- In the next six months, there will be a passenger under 21.
- You see them not wearing an appropriate seat belt. If you still have to remind your teenager to wear their seat belts, they haven’t realized the severity of a crash.
- Your child responds to your calls or texts when you are aware that they are driving. If your teenager frequently responds to your calls or texts while they are behind the wheel it is likely that they typically answer calls or texts from others as well.
- The car is overflowing with food wrappers, or you spot makeup on the seat of the driver or in the vanity mirror. A good place to find indications that you are driving in a dangerous manner is within your teen’s car. Eating and applying makeup while driving are also types of distracted driving that can be surprisingly dangerous.
- Your child returns home in the evening, a bit farther past curfew. Parents may have established specific curfew rules for their teenagers, however the state also enforces curfews for drivers who are under 18 years of age. According to Colorado the first year as an authorized driver, your teenager must abide by an unwritten curfew, which prohibits driving between midnight until 5 a.m. unless with an instructor, parental or guardian.
- She/he is constantly blasting an incessant stream of music from the car. If you can hear your teenager cruising across the street, their music is turned up extremely loud. Music that is loud creates a serious risk for drivers, making it hard to hear critical audible cues from other motorists, like the horn of a car or another vehicle speeding along.
- Your child has experienced a number of close calls and fender benders. When learning to drive, everyone makes mistakes. It is hoped that the mistakes are minor, and no one gets hurt. If your teenager has added a few scratches and dents to the car, or has been involved in numerous accidents, it might be time to rethink your driving rights until they’ve been able to get more practice.