This Sunday marks the start of Child Passenger Safety Week, a time when we talk about car seat safety, kids in hot cars and other driving risks for young passengers.
As parents, we may take our knowledge of this subject for granted – how to install a car seat and when a child is old enough to sit in a seat without a booster or any other assistance, for example - but your teen needs to learn these lessons, too. The problem is that a teen’s first year with a license is his or her most dangerous year behind the wheel and you don’t want to extend that risk to child passengers.
To stay safe, your teen should not be driving with any passengers, especially younger siblings, for the first six months to a year after he or she obtains a license. Just one teen passenger increases a teen driver’s crash risk by 44%, and younger siblings can be even more of a risk. Many parents may want their teen to share the load of driving loved ones around, but this is too big a risk until a teen driver gets more experience.
Instead, talk to your teen about other risks for child passengers, like kids in hot cars. Teach your teen to always leave the car locked so that children can’t get inside on their own. If, after the first year of driving, your teen may be responsible for driving young passengers around, teach him or her how to properly install a car seat and stress the importance of younger passengers always riding in the back, even if they’re old enough for the front seat.
It may seem strange to talk to your teen about child passenger safety – you probably still think of your teen as a vulnerable child passenger, after all - but odds are your new teen driver may be responsible for a young passenger. When that time comes, he or she needs to know how to be confident in keeping everyone in the car safe.