How do you get a teen to acknowledge that they too can end up seriously injured, or even lose their life in a car accident, when they don’t drive responsibly?
An old joke goes,”I was surprised how little my dad knew when I was 14 and how much he learned when I turned 21.”
That about sums it up for teens, right?
In 2017, the fatal crash rate per mile driven for 16-19 year-olds was nearly 3 times the rate for drivers ages 20 and over, says the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Facts startle and convince concerned parents of teens.
And teens certainly hear about these stats and certainly have awareness of the dangers of driving. Their high schools and driver’s education courses tell them multiple times.
But…their serious and fatal accident rates still remain disproportionately high.
So how do you get through to teens, who might already know everything, including that there’s absolutely no possible way they’ll be involved in a serious or fatal car accident?
Breaking through any person’s mental defenses is an arduous task. And frequently, it requires extremely painful experiences with exactly what you want to prevent before they understand.
If you’re a concerned (terrified?) parent, how can you get through to your teen and have a realistic chance of preventing their involvement in a potentially fatal car crash?
Don’t worry. You have plenty of opportunity:
Educate Them Years Before They Begin Driving
Every child, at some point, begins that serious struggle for independence. You go from the person they revere most to the king of all idiots. They’re sure you are the stupidest person in the world.
So, talk to your child about the dangers of driving and why it’s important to drive safe (and maybe a little of how to drive safe) when they’re younger, receptive to what you have to say, and actually willing to do it.
Those things can stay with them for years.
Do What You Want Your Kids To Do
Another old saying goes,”Children frequently fail to do what you say. But they never fail to imitate what you do.”
Actions speak louder than words, don’t they?
If you don’t want your teen using their phone while driving, don’t do it yourself. They’re constantly watching you, learning how to act.
Some want to play lawyer and nail you the minute you slip up. So, never fail to live up to the standards you set for your teen.
Facts Tell, Stories Sell
In marketing, there’s yet another saying that actually fully applies to teens,”Facts tell. Stories sell.”
Don’t blabber facts to your teen. They simply roll their eyes and say to themselves,”Yeah it happens to 31% of all 16-18 year olds. But it won’t happen to me.”
Switch your approach up to personal stories shared by other teens who have been in horrible accidents.
For example, this YouTube video of Reggie Stephey profiles how he was drinking underage (he wasn’t anywhere near drunk), but crossed over into the other lane of oncoming traffic as a result of his drinking.
2 of the 5 people in the other vehicle he hit head-on died instantly. Jacqueline Saburido survived the crash, but with horrible burns. She is now severely and permanently disfigured. Reggie was fined $20,000 and sentenced to two 7-year terms in prison for intoxicated manslaughter:
YouTube’s loaded with videos like these. And real personal stories teach more than facts ever will.
For teens, it’s not so much a matter of teaching them how to stay safe. It’s getting them to accept and believe something really bad can happen to them if they don’t try to stay safe while driving.
And hopefully, one of these tactics will get through to your teen.