Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the United States — ahead of all other types of injury, disease, or violence.

National Teen Driver Safety Week is coming up later this month. I’m using this blog entry and next week’s entry to share information with you about you can protect your teen drivers and how we can all work together to follow the same rules and make our roadways safer.

Parents should make sure teens know the rules of the road, and be prepared to enforce them, before teens have the keys in-hand. By working together to keep the conversation top-of-mind, we can reduce the risk of teen driver incidents on the road.

Here are the first three rules of the road we should all share with the teenagers in our life:

  1. Don’t Drive Impaired. All teens are too young to legally buy, possess, or consume alcohol, but they are still at risk. Remind your teen that driving under the influence of any impairing substance – including illicit, prescription, or over-the-counter drugs – could have deadly consequences.
  2. Buckle Up — Every Trip, Every Time. Everyone — Front Seat and Back. Wearing a seat belt is one of the simplest ways for teens to stay safe in a vehicle, and it is required in all 50 states. Remind your teen that it’s important to buckle up on every trip, every time, no matter what front seat and back, including in taxis and when using ride-sharing services.
  3. Eyes on the Road, Hands on the Wheel. All the Time. Distractions while driving are more than just risky—they can have deadly consequences. Remind your teen about the dangers of texting or using the phone while driving.

 There are three more rules of the road for teen drivers I’ll share with you next week here in this space. Until then, please remember family conversations about safe driving behaviors can make a huge — and potentially, lifesaving — difference.