How to talk to your teen about safe driving during National Teen Driver Safety Week

Just because you gave your children keys to the car, it doesn't mean you can't talk to them about safe driving.
Posted at 6:35 PM, Oct 18, 2022

NEWPORT NEWS, VA — Before giving your child the keys to the car for the first time, you probably talked to them about driver safety. However, that conversation doesn't need to end once you give up the keys.

October 16 to 22 is National Teen Driver Safety Week. It's an opportunity for parents and teens to discuss safety on the roads. According to the National Road Safety Foundation, there are a lot of factors that can lead to a crash, including distracted driving, impaired driving and speeding.

For the last 15 years, “National Teen Driver Safety Week” has sparked the conversation of “what ifs” between parents and peers. This year, it happens to fall on a special week for some universities— homecoming. Advocates for Students Against Drunk Driving said sometimes too much excitement can be a distraction.

Liza Fritzpatrick is a senior at Christopher Newport University, and she said she’s no stranger to car crashes.

"I had a family friend who was driving home from college and she got into a fatal crash. Having something like that happen shows you that it can happen in an instant," said Fritzpatrick.

When there are big events on school campuses, some students believe it can be a cause for concern. While there's nothing wrong with having a little fun, the issue comes if too much excitement makes a driver irresponsible.

"At college, it's more of the norm for people to go out and party and drink with their friends," said Fritzpatrick.

The National Road Safety Foundation found in 2020, more than 52,000 people in the U.S. had serious injuries from crashes. In Virginia, that same year, the foundation reported more than 800 people died in car crashes.

Michelle Anderson, a mom with the foundation, said this week provides an opportunity for parents and teens to have a heart-to-heart conversation about driving, the actions of other drivers as well as learned behaviors.

"We like to encourage parents to be good role models," Anderson said. "We ask parents to make sure they're buckling up, they're powering down when they're in the vehicle. What they are going to do behind the wheel is exactly what their teen driver is going to do."

Advocates, like Fritzpatrick, said it's not just a parent-to-parent talk, it can be a peer-to-peer talk, as well. Doing small things like getting a ride home if you've been drinking, or installing a driving safety function on your phone makes a big difference.

Click or tap here for more information about National Teen Driver Safety Week can be found below.