Raising teens to be safe drivers is one of the best gifts parents can give their kids. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, six teens ages 16-19 die every day in motor vehicle accidents. In fact, teens are more likely to be fatally injured in motor vehicles than drivers who are 20 and older. That is why it is crucial to arm your teen with as much information on safe driving as possible so they and their friends will remain safe on the road.
As parents of teens, we know our children want to drive and test their independence, but we also understand the inherent risks that come with that independence. One way to drive home the importance of safe driving to your teen is by getting them involved in charities that work to keep teens safe on the road. This is a fantastic way to broaden your teen’s knowledge of the dangers of drinking and driving, texting and driving, and even driving recklessly.
Here are three ways to involve your teen in charities that promote safe driving:
1. Fundraising: Allowing teens to donate their hard-earned money to charities that matter to them makes them think deeply and critically about those important causes. Teens can be extremely important to fundraising efforts for safe driving charities. They can also rally their friends to donate to organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving, for example. Once they do the research on why MADD® is important and why it was founded, it will make them acutely aware of just how dangerous drinking and driving is.
It is especially important to encourage your teen to garner the support of her friends when it comes to fundraising for safe driving charities because not only will your teen be driving, she will also be a passenger in her friends’ cars. The more your teen and her circle of friends know about drinking and driving, the more at ease you will be when they are on the road.
Suggest to your teen that she and her friends crowdfund donations to safe driving organizations on sites like crowdrise.com and gofundme.com. Peer-to-peer crowdfunding for charities provides an important lesson for teens not only about reaching goals, but also the importance of the causes they support.
2. Volunteering: Many safe driving organizations rely on the actions of local communities to advance their causes. Organizations like the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility provide toolkits about drinking and driving that teens can distribute in their schools to fellow teens. Impact Teen Drivers is an organization that warns against the dangers of texting and driving, and they also rely heavily on teens spreading their message about not using phones behind the wheel. By creating community projects around safe driving, your teen will become a more conscious driver. Encourage your teen to schedule discussions about driving distractions and driving under the influence at her school or community center. Some organizations even provide limited program funding for teens who volunteer to spread the word.
3. Your teen’s interests: While it is important for your teen to donate money to important charities that save teens’ lives and volunteer to spread their messages, your teen may become so passionate about this topic that she may want to create her own movement on safe driving. It is not an easy task to create a nonprofit (mainly because of all the paperwork involved); however, while your teen contemplates how official she wants her movement to be, she can test her ideas on social media.
Encourage your teen to create a grassroots movement on social media, first to fine-tune her messaging and then to get her friends and peers involved as well. Also, make sure to let her know that she can take her time to make the movement exactly how she wants it. Once it gets to the point where donations may be needed to further spread the safe driving messaging, help her become official by applying for 501(c)3 status.
Ensure that your teen thinks about this issue in a creative, different way so that she does not replicate what is already out there. Teens have an uncanny way of thinking outside the box. Your teen may be able to create a nationwide campaign that better resonates with other teens. Ultimately, be sure to remind your teen that her work will help save lives.
When your teen reaches driving age, it is inevitable that she will hear about safe driving, but these three tactics can make her truly understand its importance firsthand.