Keep your teen driver safe and avoid these common misconceptions

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Putting your teen behind the wheel can be a scary moment. You feel like you prepared your teen for driving on his or her own, but you are still worried about safety. Worrying is understandable. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), for each mile driven the fatality rate for 16-19-year-olds is 3 times as high as for those 20 years and older in the U.S.

You may be wondering how to keep your teen safe on the road. Below are some common myths some parents have about teenage drivers. Make sure you do not have any of these misconceptions.

With the graduated licensing laws, your teen has had plenty of practice driving

In Texas, teens are required to complete a driver’s education course, 30 hours of supervised driving, and then wait six months after receiving their learners license to apply for their provisional license. The graduated licensing system is a big improvement, but these are the minimum requirements. Teens lack experience behind the wheel. More practice and restrictions on driving privileges can help your teen develop into a safer driver.

My teen is smart, so he or she will be able to handle it

Your teen may be a straight A student, but that does not necessarily mean he or she will be a great driver. There is no link between good grades and good driving. In fact, studies show teen’s brains have not matured entirely. The part of the brain that manages judgment, the ability to multi-task, and sensory images is not fully developed in teens. These are skills that prove extremely helpful when driving.

You bought your teen a car with airbags, so the car is safe

Buying your teen a car with airbags is a great idea. However, there are other safety features to consider. Electronic stability control (ESC) is standard on all cars 2012 or newer. The system features a computer linked to sensors which monitor your steering and speed of the wheels, as well as the motion and rotation of the car. If you start to drift out of your lane or if the vehicle skids or slides, the sensors communicate back to the computer redirecting your vehicle to stay on course. According to Consumer Reports, ESC is an improved version of traction control.

ESC can be particularly helpful on vehicles prone to rollovers like SUVS and pickups. It may prevent situations where there is potential for a vehicle to roll over.

The bigger the car, the better

Putting your teen in a larger car is generally safer. However, an SUV is not necessarily the best option. SUVS are more likely to rollover because the vehicles are tall and top-heavy. If an SUV has features like four-wheel drive, teens may also feel a false sense of security and make reckless decisions.

A recent report from IIHS shows small cars or sports cars increase teens’ risk of crashing. A teen may be safer with a full-size sedan or station wagon. You likely want something large and solid, but nothing with a performance type engine or that is too top-heavy.

When your teen starts to drive, it can be scary to hand the keys over. Providing your teen with a safe car and making sure he or she has extra time driving supervised may help. Remember, it is okay to restrict your teen’s driving privileges until you feel comfortable with his or her skills behind the wheel.

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