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So Your Teenager is Driving in the Dallas-Fort Wor

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You live in the fourth largest metropolitan area in the nation. Almost 7.5 million residents call the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington area home--that’s a lot of people, and a lot of cars are needed to transport them to work, school, shopping, and more.
And now your sweet, baby-faced, sixteen-year-old holds a piece of paper saying he or she can legally join the ranks of craziness on these streets. That’s enough to cause any parent to panic. But there are things you, as a parent, can do to make your teen and other drivers safe while your new driver enters the fray of traffic.

Prepare for potential problems and understand the risks.

You’ve most likely heard that teenaged drivers are accident magnets; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that in 2015 “six teens ages 16-19 died every day from motor vehicle injuries.” They also reported that almost 236,000 teens were treated in emergency rooms for injuries sustained in car accidents. Hopefully, your son or daughter won’t be one of those statistics. But chances are, there will be minor mishaps to deal with such as fender-benders, flat tires, and running out of gas.
As a parent, there are things you can do to prepare your teen for these mishaps. First off, insure your teen driver. Insurance costs for teen drivers are much higher than for adults. Look for options for cheap car insurance in Dallas to make sure it doesn’t break the bank to get your driver protected. Next, teach your teen what to do in case he or she does get in accident. Provide your teen with a cell phone so you can be contacted in the event of an emergency. Also make sure the car has gas, jumper cables, a jack, and that the car’s spare tire is filled before sending him or her out on the road.
Teach your new driver skills such as filling the gas tank, using jumper cables, and changing a tire. Preparing your teen to deal with the day-to-day necessities and problems that can arise with the responsibility of driving will ease your mind as you send him or her out on their own.

Assess your teen’s driving ability.

Chances are, living in Texas, you were your teen’s driving instructor. So you probably already know your new driver’s strengths and weaknesses as far as driving goes. You also know that even though your son or daughter has all of the basic skills necessary to earn a license to drive, there is still a lot of practice needed.
Follow your instincts as a parent and limit solo driving in conditions where your son or daughter has less experience. For example, don’t send them alone on Interstate 360 until they have hours of experience driving in horrific traffic and at freeway speeds with you as copilot. Nighttime driving and driving in inclement weather are also conditions with which your new driver might have limited experience. Remember that the first six months of driving is the most dangerous for teen drivers. Give them gradual driving experiences under these difficult conditions to improve their skills and confidence. And of course, to ease your anxiety!

Set firm rules.

As a parent, be a parent. Don’t let your teen’s excitement over their new found freedom allow you to let down your guard. Many teen accidents occur because teens feel they are highly skilled and invincible. They don’t always have the best judgement when it comes driving--especially with friends added into the mix. As a parent, strict driving rules and consequences for breaking them and the laws already in place are vital.
Some rules and laws you should emphasize are no driving with friends for the first six months or only driving with one friend at a time (this is actually the law in Texas until the driver is 18); no cell phone use; no speeding; no drinking; etc. You know your son or daughter best. You know what distracts and angers or upsets your teen. Distractions and road rage are top reasons new drivers get into accidents, so your rules need to address anything that could be a distraction or cause your teen to become upset. Remember though, rules mean nothing unless they are enforced. Don’t be afraid to a parent. It could save your teen’s life. And always be the good example your teen will want to emulate--follow the laws yourself.
So your teen is driving in the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington metro area. Scary, yes. But  you understand the risks, and realize that arming your new driver with skills to deal with situations that may arise, and setting firm rules with consequences will help keep your teen safer on the busy highways around Dallas.

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