Set guidelines on riding with others. In 1993, two out of every three teens who died as passengers in crashes were traveling in vehicles driven by other teens. And fatal crashes involving 16-year-olds were much more likely to occur with three or more occupants in the vehicle. Set some guidelines for your teen:
- If the person with whom she is to ride is “ under the influence,” let her know you'll come and get her, or pay for a cab, anywhere and anytime. She should also feel free to call you any time she senses trouble.
- She is to wear a seat belt, regardless of what others are doing.
- High school parking lots frequently feature some questionable “specimens,” and you don't want your teen riding in a car in which the brakes are likely to fail, or that may stall on the highway. If your teen hangs out with a friend whose car is frequently experiencing mechanical problems, you'll want to discuss it with her. While it would be ideal to keep your teen out of her best friend's wreck altogether, it may not be possible. Your best bet is to limit the range your teen can travel in a poorly maintained car (local driving only is a place to start).
So how will you know that your son doesn't use his seat belt, or that he went cruising down the road in his friend Andy's coughing, sputtering jalopy against your wishes? You might hear, but you probably won't. What you're offering your teen are guidelines for his own safety; all you can do is hope that he takes appropriate care more often than not. And if you do see him hopping out of Andy's pile of junk? Talk to him about why you suggested the rule you did. Maybe he'll hear your words before he and Andy go for their next spin down the highway.