Warning Signs Your Teen is an Dangerous behind the Wheel

Earning a driver’s license is just the beginning of young adults on their journey to become safe and responsible drivers. It’s National Teen Driver Safety Week and police want parents and their caregivers to be aware seven “red flags” that could help them determine if their child is safe behind the steering wheel.

“Getting insight into how your child drives is a challenge since we know people are more diligent when someone that loves them is watching,” says Col. Matthew C. Packard Chief of the Colorado State Patrol. “This list provides a few common indicators that can help parents be aware of when to engage in an engaging dialogue with their child and perhaps put away the keys until trust is restored. As difficult as it may be important that parents remain involved because we recognize that the initial years behind the wheel could be risky as new drivers gain experience.”

In the time that the Colorado State Patrol looked at the three years that had the most crash data that included fatalities and injuries (2019-2021) for at-fault drivers between 16 and 21 years old, the top crash causal factors were:

  1. Distraction – inattentive to driving
  2. Exceeding a legal and safe speed
  3. Lane violation – traveled out of the designated lane
  4. Impaired driving
  5. Failed to yield right-of-way

In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that drivers younger than 20 are three times more likely to be involved in a car crash than other drivers. So how can a parent know when they should be concerned?

Seven Warning Signs 

  1. She/he has always a friend or two at the wheel. Your teenager may say that carpooling is beneficial for the environment and saves gas, but travelling with other passengers increases the chance that they will get into a car accident.
    1. Colorado GDL Laws state that for the first six months, no passengers under 21 (siblings as well as medical emergencies exempted), unless an adult with a license or parent adult who is over 21 inside the vehicle .
    2. For the next 6 months, there will be a passenger under 21.
  2. You catch him/her not wearing a seat belt. If you still need to remind your child to wear a seat belt, they’ve not thought about the dangers of a crash.
  3. Your child answers your calls or texts when you are aware that they are driving. If your teen frequently answers your calls or texts while they are behind the wheel, then chances are they usually respond to texts or calls from others as well.
  4. The vehicle is overflowing with food wrappers, or you spot makeup on the seat of the driver or in the vanity mirror. A good place to look for signs of reckless driving is in your teenager’s car. Food and makeup application behind the wheel are different forms of distracted driving and could be quite dangerous.
  5. Your child is home in the evening, a bit farther past curfew. Parents may have formulated specific curfews for their teenager, but states also enforce curfews for drivers under 18. According to Colorado the first year of being licensed drivers, your teenager must adhere to an unwritten curfew, which prohibits driving between midnight and 5 a.m. unless accompanied by an instructor or parents or guardians.
  6. The teen is constantly playing an incessant stream of music from the car. If you can hear your teenager coming across the street, their music is dangerously loud. The loud music poses a significant risk for drivers, making it difficult to discern the important audible signals coming from other motorists, such as the sound of a car horn or a vehicle accelerating nearby.
  7. Your child has experienced numerous collisions and fender benders. When learning to drive, everyone makes mistakes. It is hoped that the mistakes are minor, and no one gets injured. However, if your teenager has added one too many dings and scratches to their car or been involved in numerous accidents, it may be time to scale back the driving restrictions until they’ve been able to get more practice.

Extended Coverage Indication Your Teen is an Dangerous when driving. Previous Reporting Warning Signs Your Teenager is an Hazardous Driver.