While most parents typically set ground rules their teens need to follow when they get behind the wheel, an alarming new study conducted by Liberty Mutual Insurance reveals that more than a third (37 percent) of parents do not enforce punishments when their teen breaks a rule – or even the law. How could this be? According to the survey, 38 percent of parents don’t enforce rules because it’s an inconvenience, and even more surprising, parents exhibit dangerous driving habits and frequently do so as often as their teens.
To battle this, Dr. Gene Beresin and Mike Sample of Liberty Mutual offer the following tips to help parents encourage safe driving behaviors with their teen:
Set rules and enforce them. The survey found that 30 percent of those who don’t always enforce consequences say it’s because it’s hard to monitor their teens. If a rule is broken, an effective consequence should encourage teens to change their behavior. It’s recommended that the consequence is connected to the original behavior and is both task and time specific such as taking away driving privileges for one week.
Experience doesn’t always equal safe. The survey found that 36 percent of teens say their parents claim more experience as the justification for these bad behaviors. No matter how many years they have been driving, it is important for parents to model good driving behavior and follow the rules of the road. If parents aren’t following rules such as driving over the speed limit, checking social media or texting while driving, the parent isn’t being a good role model for their teen and are showing them that rules aren’t important.
Encourage open communication. Parents should speak with their teens about safe driving practices beginning at a young age before the teen even starts driving. Liberty Mutual Insurance encourages parents and teens to use a Teen Driving Contract as a conversation starter and discussion guide. This tool covers important safety issues and is an easy roadmap for parents and teens alike to start a discussion while upholding family driving rules.