Parenting Safety

Countdown to drive

Rene Hopkins
Written by Rene Hopkins

Few teens and preteens ever think about the rules of the road or how to drive safely until they’re just about to start driving. For something as important as driving, it’s best to give your kids a head start.

Here are a few ways to provide teens and preteens with the tools and support they need to make responsible choices before they are ready to drive or ride with other young, new drivers.

Hard Facts

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teenagers. Mile for mile, teenagers are three times more likely to be involved in a crash compared with other drivers. Compared with other age groups, teens have the lowest rate of seat belt use. Only 54 percent of high school students reported always wearing a seat belt when riding with someone else.

Top Tips

  • Kids are always watching, even when you think they’re not. So be a good example. Try to eliminate distractions by not using a cell phone or texting while driving. Use your teen or preteen to read maps and help with finding locations.
  • Teach your kids to ride with experienced drivers and never get in the car with someone who has been drinking or doing drugs. Parents must decide what “experienced” means.
  • Make it a rule that kids younger than 13 ride like a VIP – in the back. This is the safest place for preteens and younger children to sit.
  • When carpooling, make sure you have enough seating positions and booster seats for every child in your car and that kids enter and exit curbside.

Safe Kids World Wide offers the Countdown2drive program, which enables parents to put together a specially tailored passenger agreement and guidelines for pre-teens and teens.



About the author

Rene Hopkins

Rene Hopkins

A registered nurse educator, Rene Hopkins is responsible for establishing and maintaining childhood injury prevention programs through grant writing, research and data collection, community partnerships, education, legislation advocacy, and distribution of safety equipment. She coordinates more than a dozen monthly Safe Kids programs in the Greater Augusta area to educate parents and caregivers, including Safe Sitter, Car Seat Classes, Youth Firesetters Prevention Intervention, and Cribs for Kids.