Teen drivers are the least experienced and most unsafe demographic. While driving can be seen as a rite of passage, it’s dangerous and can leave parents and loved ones feeling extremely worried.
In 2019, around 258,000 teens between the ages of 13 and 19 received treatment in emergency rooms because of injuries they received during car accidents.
Even if your teen is excited about the freedom that can come with driving, that doesn’t mean they’re inherently ready for the responsibility. There are also situations where maybe your teen’s been driving for a period of time, and you’re worried that maybe you should rethink letting them do so.
The following are some signs that your teen shouldn’t drive, at least not yet.
They’re Always Tired
One of the biggest reasons for car accidents across all age groups is fatigue. Being tired while driving can be as dangerous as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Teens rarely get enough sleep. In fact, it’s estimated that 87% of teens don’t get the recommended 8 ½ to 9 ½ hours of sleep a night that their age group should.
The American Academy of Pediatrics says the average teen in America is as tired as someone with narcolepsy.
When a teen isn’t getting enough sleep, it affects their behavior control, mood, memory, and attention.
Until your teen can get on a better sleep schedule, it may be best to hold off on letting them drive.
There’s Always Someone in the Car
When teens drive with other people in the vehicle, their risk of being in an accident goes up substantially.
Almost two out of three teen accident deaths involve a new driver with one or more passengers.
A teen shouldn’t have anyone in the car with them during the initial few months after they get their license. The first 100 days following the time when a teen gets their license are the deadliest.
If you’re worried about who your teen associates with or think their friends are a bad influence, it’s another reason to consider delaying their license. These are people that could influence not only their overall behavior but their driving habits.
Lack of Independence
Teen drivers may think they’re independent, but if you find your child is often turning to you when it’s time to clean up problems or fix issues in their lives, consider delaying driving.
A teen who’s ready to drive needs to be comfortable with independence, problem-solving, and making decisions on their own.
You Suspect They Drink
Some teens experiment with alcohol and other substances. This can be an issue you have to deal with on its own, but it should also give you pause as far as their driving privileges. If a teen drinks or uses substances, there’s no guarantee that they won’t do that behind the wheel.
The reality is that it’s dangerous for teens to drink or use drugs without driving being involved, and it’s also illegal and likely against your rules. If your teen can’t follow these rules, who’s to say they’re going to follow the rules of the road?
Short Attention Span
In our modern lives, most of us struggle with a relatively short attention span because of the constant barrage of technology, news, information, and social media. That has implications for our mental health and our productivity.
For teens, who are already notoriously distracted drivers, the appeal of checking their texts or Instagram could take over when they’re behind the wheel.
If you have a teen who seems to constantly check their phone, rethink the timetable you’ll allow them to drive on.
If your teen doesn’t seem able to resist the urge to look at a text message as soon as they receive it or put their phone away, even for a few minutes, it’s a driving red flag.
The same is true of other distractions. For example, if your teen’s been driving for a period of time and their car is littered with remnants of fast food meals, you might want to talk to them. Eating and drinking behind the wheel are also major sources of distraction.
Personal grooming and checking their reflection in the mirror are dangerous distractions too.
A good teen driver is one who can maintain their focus and attention span while they’re behind the wheel, no matter what.
Finally, maybe your teen hasn’t been in a major accident but has had their fair share of fender benders or close calls. If so, you could suspend driving privileges until they get more experience with you in the passenger seat.