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Charles County Sheriff's Office

Tips for Talking to your Teen about Safe Driving

Several weeks ago, Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) began the ‘20-’21 school year on a virtual platform due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Online schooling has changed the way many programs are running. Sports programs and clubs have been modified, postponed or even cancelled. For the CCSO, it meant we were unable to kick off the “We Care” program. 

We Care is a teen driving program developed as part of an alliance between young drivers and the police and school officials who care about them. For more information about the We Care program, how it began, and what it entails, click here

Despite not being able to meet with students face-to-face to discuss the importance of safe driving, we feel it is crucial that we share information for parents to utilize when talking to their children about staying safe on the roads. Here are a few facts and resources to share with drivers both young and not-so-young:

1. The only task that matters while you’re driving, is DRIVING. 

Each year in Maryland, 183 people die from distracted driving crashes. An additional 27,000+ more are injured. Despite cell phone laws prohibiting drivers from talking or texting on handheld devices while driving, many drivers find it difficult to avoid looking at their phones while behind the wheel. In addition to phone use, other distractions such as fixing makeup, eating, or drinking can be dangerous as well. Anything that pulls your attention away from the road can result in killing or injuring yourself, a passenger, another motorist, a cyclist, or a pedestrian. 

Sending a text, taking a call, or doing any other task while you’re driving will never be worth the possible consequences. 

2. Never, ever, drive while impaired or allow someone you know to drive impaired. 

Drinking or using drugs and driving is illegal, and often leads to tragedies that are preventable. Every year, 160 Marylanders die as a result of drunk or impaired driving, and thousands more are injured. Never get behind the wheel of a car if you are impaired, and never get in a vehicle with a driver who is impaired. Always designate a sober driver, or arrange for an Uber ride home. 

3. Wear your seatbelt for EVERY ride. 

Driving a car or riding in a car without fastening your seatbelt can be deadly. People involved in a crash who aren’t wearing their seatbelt are 67% more likely to sustain injuries that are moderate to fatal. 

There is never a good reason to not wear your seatbelt. Even if it’s just a short ride, buckle up. Being in the back seat does not make you safer; buckle up. 

4. Avoid speeding and aggressive driving. 

One out of every three crashes are caused by aggressive driving and speeding. Following the rules of the road helps other drivers know how to anticipate and react, and what to expect. When drivers are aggressive, speeding and weaving in and out of traffic, running stop signs and red lights, and tailgating, their unpredictable behavior is dangerous for themselves and others. 

Stay calm and stay safe. Driving recklessly is never worth the risks. 

There is never a bad time to talk about safe driving with your teen or the people you love. It is important to always:

  • Encourage open communication. Create a space where they aren’t afraid to tell you about things that have scared them or situations that they have been in that made them feel unsafe.
  • Listen. Avoid lecturing them. Let them tell you what they know, and fill in any gaps. 
  • Have a plan. Be open about what they should do if they find themselves in a dangerous situation. Make sure they know that they know they can always call you.
  • Set rules such as a curfew. This will give your teen space to have some freedom while respecting the boundaries.  
  • Trust them. Letting your teen know that you believe they will make the right choices will motivate him or her to keep your trust. 

For more information about safe driving in Maryland, visit https://zerodeathsmd.gov/.

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