6 Tips to Help Teens Stay Safe While Riding Shotgun

Your teens might be focused on being good drivers, but how are they as passengers?

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Ah, summer. School is out, vacations are in full swing and teen drivers are eager to grab their friends and hit the road. But the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day—the “100 Deadliest Days”—is when teen drivers are at a greater risk on the road.

In 2016, an average of 10 people per day were killed in crashes involving teen drivers—a 14 percent increase from the previous year, according to data analyzed by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The biggest culprit? Distractions from peer passengers. The best line of defense is to set some ground rules for your teen when they’re riding shotgun:

1. Riding after dark

Discourage your teen from riding shotgun at night with teen drivers. Research shows a 22 percent increase in nighttime crashes involving teens during the 100 Deadliest Days.

2. Limiting passengers

Talk about the dangers of riding shotgun with groups: The crash risk doubles when teens drive with one peer passenger and triples with two or more teen passengers.

3. Avoiding new drivers

Encourage your teen not to accept rides from newly licensed drivers.

4. Calling out bad habits

Encourage them to speak up if a driver has bad habits like texting while driving or not following speed limits. It’s OK to say, “I can text the message for you so you can drive safely.”

5. Reducing distractions

Emphasize the importance of keeping distractions to a minimum, even while riding shotgun. Listening to a phone conversation can easily disrupt a driver’s attention.

6. Setting a good example

Novice teen drivers learn from watching their parents. So practice being a good passenger yourself.

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