Getting teens to use seat belts can be a challenge. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that of fatal crashes involving people ages 16 to 20 in 2010, 60 percent of those killed were not wearing a seat belt. With teens crashing at three times the rate of more experienced drivers, getting them to demonstrate safe practices behind the wheel is critical.
According to The Allstate Foundation, 80 percent of teens say their parents influence their driving habits more than anyone else. You play an important role in your teen’s driving education. Here are a few tips to get your teen to wear a seat belt:
- Set a positive example – In a 2008 study done by NHTSA, 80 percent of teens said they have a habit of wearing a seat belt because their parents insisted on it since they were young. Parents, your example matters. Your teen driver needs to see the importance of wearing a seat belt first hand.
- Ask local student-led safety groups to start a campaign – Many school-led safety groups host events and activities to raise awareness about teen driving issues. Ask group members and their faculty advisor to include seat belt use among the topics discussed and see if the group would host an activity or a contest dedicated to buckling up.
- Work with school administrators and teachers – Ask if there is a day during the school year where a law enforcement officer can speak to students about the importance of seat belt use. Law enforcement officers can share their experiences and help teens understand why buckling up is so important.
- Elevate your state law to primary enforcement – According to an April 2012 report published in the American Journal of Public Health, teen drivers and their passengers are more likely to wear a seat belt if they live in a state where law enforcement officers can stop them and issue a citation for belt use alone. States that have secondary enforcement laws require officers to stop drivers for violating another law before they can issue a citation for seat belt use. Check the laws in your state.
The fact is seat belts save lives and as your teen gains experience behind the wheel, the use of a seat belt can mean the difference between life and death. Be a good coach and role model, talk to your teen about seat belt use and make a point of making sure everyone is buckled up before you drive.