Getting a driver’s license is a rite-of-passage for most Nova Scotians. As exciting as it is for our children, for most Nova Scotian parents, the thought your child with a new driver’s license behind the wheel of a car is a worrying experience. Will they be safe? Are they experienced enough? Will they know what to do if they’re involved in a car accident?
These fears are normal and well founded. Statistically, teen drivers are much more likely to be involved in a car accident than any other age population. However, driving is a way of life for most Nova Scotians. Because it’s hard to keep your teenager from ever getting behind the wheel, the next best thing you can do is enable them be as safe as possible on Nova Scotia roads.
Here are the top five things you and your teen can do to help minimize the risk injury in a car accident:
- Take advance of Nova Scotia’s Beginner’s License program – statistics have shown that participants are much less likely to be injured in a car accident. The program allows new drivers to be introduced to driving slowly, and in a closely supervised manner. The practice period is 12 months. During this time, the learning driver is not allowed any passengers, except a supervising driver (usually a parent). Details of the Learner’s Licence Program can be found here.
- Take a driver’s education or training program – While these programs cost money and take time, studies have shown them to be very successful at reducing the risk of injury. A new study that followed more than 150,000 teen drivers over eight years has found that driver’s education significantly reduces crashes and traffic violations among new drivers. It found that young drivers who have not completed driver’s education are 75 percent more likely to get a traffic ticket, 24 percent more likely to be involved in a fatal or injury accident and 16 percent more likely to have an accident.
- Limit distractions – We all know that drivers engaged in cell phone use (calls or texts) are much more likely to be involved in a car accident compared with non-distracted drivers. Canadian statistics show that the risk of a car accident is 23 times higher. This cannot be stressed on your teen enough (especially given teenager’s fondness for texting). Set clear rules. Maybe take advance of some of the recent technologies available to prevent texting and driving.
- Practice, practice, practice – like the old saying goes, “practice makes perfect” (or at least as close to perfect as possible when it comes to driving). One of the biggest reasons that teens are involved in more car accidents is because they have less experience. Spending the time and having them drive with you in the passenger seat is an investment into their safety.
- Talk to your child about what to do if involved in a car accident – No parents wants to think about the possibility of their child being involved in a car accident. But it’s important to talk about the things your teen should do if the worst happens. Being prepared will help lessen the stress of the situation and help ensure that your teen protects his or her legal interests vis-à-vis an insurance company or at-fault driver.