How to Talk with Your Teen About Safe Driving

There are plenty of difficult topics to talk about with your children, but perhaps the one that strikes terror in many parents is the talk that precedes handing over the keys to the family car. Yes, that talk. We may joke about it, but talking to teens about safe driving is one of the critical chats that parents need to get right, for the safety of their child and anyone else that’s on the road while they’re behind the wheel.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that car crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens.1 Often, it is their immaturity and lack of driving experience that are the two main factors leading to a high crash rate among teens. Lack of experience affects their recognition of and response to hazardous situations, and may result in dangerous practices such as speeding and tailgating, according to the  Insurance Information Institute.2

How can you help your young adult become a safer driver? Here are five tips to help you talk to your child about safe driving:

  1. Be confident. Know that you can positively influence your young driver’s behavior behind the wheel.
  2. Set a good example. Be a safe driver yourself (if you are not already). Studies show that young drivers are influenced by the positive role modeling of their parents’ responsible driving behaviors.3
  3. Know the facts about teen driving. Some teens increase their already high collision risk by speeding, drinking, driving at night, having peers as passengers and driving distracted.  New York State has Graduated Driver Licensing laws to help address the prevalence of risky behaviors among new drivers. Learn about these laws and resolve to enforce them.
  4. Be a great coach. Stay calm and set clear expectations and consequences regarding dangerous driving behaviors mentioned above. Put expectations in writing in a simple parent-teen driving contract. Be encouraging. Kids, including adolescents, respond best to positive reinforcement.4
  5. Stay involved. Monitor your teen’s behavior behind the wheel – even after your teen obtains his or her license. Continue to coach them about how to drive safely. It takes time, experience, judgment and skill to learn how to drive safely. You may want to consider installing a monitoring device that provides data on driving behaviors that need improvement. And, be realistic: you will likely need to have multiple talks with your child about safe driving.5

Once you’ve had the talk, it’ll be important to regularly reinforce the messaging you’ve offered your teen. The “5 to Drive” campaign6 recommends highlighting the following:

  • Buckle up.
  • Don’t use a cell phone while driving.
  • Don’t speed.
  • Observe passenger limits for your vehicle.
  • Don’t drive under the influence of alcohol.

Driver’s education classes can’t teach your kids everything. While it can help to instill the rules of the road, and provide some basic driving experience, driver’s education training is but one component in helping your young adult prepare to get behind the wheel. As a parent, it’s essential that you take a proactive role in keeping your teen driver safe and injury free. Have the talk.

Sources:
1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) [Online]. (2014). National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (producer). [Cited 2016 Sept 20].
2 Insurance Information Institute.
http://www.iii.org/issue-update/teen-drivers [accessed 2016 Dec 29]
3 National Safety Council.
http://www.nsc.org/learn/NSC-Initiatives/Pages/teen-driving.aspx
4 Ibid.
5 Ibid.
6 National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.
https://www.nhtsa.gov/press-releases/us-dot-and-safety-partners-highlight-teen-driver-safety-week-events

Protecting Your Home From Flood Damage

While fire may be a more common concern among homeowners, your home could in fact be as much as ten times more likely to be damaged by water than by fire.*  Significant sources of water damage to one’s property can come from weather-related moisture or flooding, including flooding from heavy rains, flash floods, dam and levee failures, tidal storm surges and mudflows. In addition, new construction of buildings, roads or bridges can alter the flow of water, increasing the potential for flooding.

Living in a high-risk flood zone can increase the likelihood of experiencing a flood, but being outside a high-risk zone does not mean homeowners are safe; flooding is always a possibility due to causes such as heavy rains, snowmelt and spring thaws.

Protecting Your Property Before, During and After a Flood

There are a number of things you can do to help minimize or prevent water damage to your property. Follow these tips to help prepare and recover from potentially costly flood damage.

Before the Flood:

  • Know your properties flood zone risk and evaluate your flood risk with this reference guide from IBHS.
  • Have your furnace, water heater and other permanent equipment elevated above the expected flood levels of your area.
  • Inspect sump pumps and drains regularly to ensure proper operation.
  • If you own a generator, have a licensed electrician provide a transfer switch to your sump pump so you can operate it in the event of flooding.
  • To help prevent sewage backup, have a licensed plumber install an interior or exterior backflow prevention valve.
  • Keep sandbags on hand to help divert unusually high water away from your foundation.
  • In snowy climates, flag drains to avoid plowing snow on top of them.
  • Learn the flood alert signals of your community.
  • Collect emergency building materials if you live in a frequently flooded area. These may include plywood, plastic sheeting, lumber, nails, shovels and sandbags.
  • Plan and practice an evacuation route. Designate a place for family members to meet in the event they become separated.
  • Review with all family members how to shut off utilities in an emergency.
  • Plan a survival kit with important documents, including insurance documents, medications and critical items in the event you need to leave your home.

During the Flood:

  • Listen to a battery-operated radio or television for the latest storm information. If advised to evacuate, shut off all utilities and evacuate immediately.
  • Move to high ground, avoid rising waters and do not walk or drive through any floodwaters.
  • Stay away from downed power lines and electrical wires.

After the Flood:

  • Listen to the radio and do not return home until authorities indicate it is safe to do so.
  • Once allowed back into your home, inspect it for damage. If your property has been damaged, promptly report the loss.
  • Be watchful of snakes that may have found their way into your home.
  • Throw away all food that has come in contact with floodwaters.
  • Remove standing water as quickly as possible, including from your basement. If your basement is flooded, pump out about 1/3 of the water per day to avoid structural damage.
  • Properly dry or remove soaked carpets, padding and upholstery within 24-48 hours after a flood to prevent mold growth. Discard anything that cannot be properly dried.
  • Wash and disinfect all areas that have been flooded. This includes walls, floors, closets and shelves, as well as heating and air-conditioning systems. Do not energize electrical or electronic equipment that may have suffered water damage without first having a qualified electrician inspect and/or test it.

 

FloodSmart.gov,

https://www.floodsmart.gov/floodsmart/pages/residential_coverage/rc_overview.jsp