Summer driving safety tips for parents and teens

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Help your teens stay safe on the road this summer.

While many people associate risks on the road with the winter season, there is plenty of danger looming during the warmer months if drivers aren't careful.

Despite COVID-19 quarantine protocols still in place, millions of Americans are still navigating U.S. roadways at any given moment, so it's essential to educate your teen on the how's and whys of summer driving safety:

1. Reiterate the importance of keeping both hands on the wheel. How often have you started jamming out to a song on the radio, only to find your hands waving to the beat? How many times have you done this while driving? Regardless of whether your favorite tunes are playing, ensuring your hands remain on the wheel is paramount to your child's safety. And music isn't the only reason teens often take their hands—and eyes—off the road.

2. Stress the dangers associated with texting and driving. Distracted driving led to almost 3,000 deaths in 2018, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Remember that teenagers are not experienced drivers, and if they've never been in an accident, there's a chance they're living with the mindset that nothing bad will ever happen to them. This, however, could not be farther from the truth.

Whether they've been driving for a few years or on the verge of obtaining a license, you must express their responsibility to both themselves and others while operating a motor vehicle. Texting while driving involves all three types of distraction: visual, manual, and cognitive. This means a texting driver could have their eyes, hands and brain focused on something different than the road and obstacles around them.

3. Share horror stories related to drinking and driving. Teenagers may be tempted to find ways to drink alcohol with their friends, especially during the summer when school is out, and parties are frequent. You can threaten them with punishments until you're blue in the face, but if they're determined to drink, they will find a way. With this in mind, you have two options: You can pretend it isn't going to happen or teach them valuable lessons that will keep them out of harm's way. If you opt for the latter, as you should, these lessons should involve the dangers of drinking and driving.

Every kid has been told not to drink and drive in school. Most parents have repeatedly told them how dangerous a mistake it can be. However, you can take it a step further by sharing horror stories of what can happen to teenagers who choose to ignore this advice, from jail time to a lifetime of guilt over the impact a crash had on the lives of others.

4. Simple lessons are valuable, too. Every conversation related to driving doesn't have to be serious. The lessons you share with your child can be simple, helpful tips that make their experience behind the wheel a little less stressful and safer. If your daughter likes to drive with the windows down, suggest the importance of putting her hair in a ponytail, so it doesn't whip across her face and momentarily blind her. If your son enjoys working out at the gym, suggest that he put his bags in the trunk, so he doesn't have an urge to rummage through his belongings while operating the vehicle.

For teens, driving comes with a once-in-a-lifetime sort of feeling. It's freeing, rewarding, and the first of many experiences that allow them to feel like adults. In the summer, let them enjoy this feeling, but do so carefully. Explain the potential dangers are lurking behind every stoplight, crosswalk, and passing vehicle, and they'll be better for it.

Patrons Oxford Insurance wants everyone to stay safe on the roads. Learn more about their company and services at patrons.com.

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