• Summer months are deadliest for teen drivers.
  • Tips help parents encourage teens to drive safely.
  • Safe vehicle choices, seatbelt use, avoiding distraction among recommendations.

According the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for teens in the U.S. Mile for mile, teen fatality rates are triple those of other drivers. If that's a scary statistic for the teen drivers themselves, it's a horrifying one for parents. And during these summer months - when teens often have more freedom and spend more time behind the wheel - the roads represent even graver danger. June, July and August are the deadliest months for teens aged 15 to 19.

Parents can help to lower their child's risk by following our five tips for safe teen summer driving. AutoTrader.com shares tips to draw parents' attention to the risks teens face, especially during summer months. Aimed at parents, the comprehensive recommendations, from buying a safe car for a teen driver to simply buckling up, help parents to promote safety for teens behind the wheel.

Pick the Right Car. Keeping teens safe on the road starts with ensuring they have the right car. While many teens inherit their parent's vehicle as their first car - mainly due to simplicity and cost efficiency - parents should step back and thoughtfully consider their choice, keeping safety top of mind. For example, SUVs and trucks behave differently on the road than coupes and sedans. A teen driver might lack the skills to cope with evasive maneuvers in a big truck. Parents should opt for something that sits close to the ground (to minimize rollover risk) and something that isn't overly powerful.

Educate Teens on Car Maintenance. With the radio playing the summer's top tunes, it's easy for teens to miss important car maintenance signs; therefore, parents should add car maintenance - such as checking tire pressure and fluids - to their list of things to discuss with their teens. Even if just one tire has low pressure, it can dramatically change the way a car handles. Also, parents should be sure that their teen drivers check all fluids like window washing fluid, coolant, oil, transmission fluid, brake fluid and power steering fluid. Making sure these fluids are properly maintained can help prevent a breakdown far from home.

Say it Again: Seatbelts Save Lives. Obvious tip? Not to one in every seven drivers who still don't wear their seatbelts. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), automotive accidents are the number one cause of death in the U.S. among people aged 5 to 34. Furthermore, the CDC says that drivers who buckle their seat belts cut their chances in half of being seriously injured or killed in a crash. Reiterate the importance of wearing a seatbelt, and note that technology can also help. For example, some Ford vehicles can be equipped with the MyKey feature, making it possible for parents to limit certain aspects of their teen's car. With MyKey, top speed, radio volume and seatbelt chime parameters can be altered.

Discourage Distracted Driving. According to Distraction.Gov, cell phone use was reported in 18% of distraction-related fatalities in America. Additionally, having multiple passengers, changing iPod tracks or operating the car's navigation system can be just as dangerous. Parents should discuss all the ways drivers can be distracted with their teens to help keep them safe on the road.

Discourage Over-Use of Cruise Control. Cruise control can work well on long trips and might even limit driver fatigue. However, teen drivers who might be more likely to stay out late should limit the use of cruise control at night. The lack of engagement might lead to a slightly drowsy driver falling asleep more quickly.

Wise parents know that kids need guidance - help with school work, encouragement in athletics and the arts, and even occasional advice on friends or relationships. Helping teens to do their best is part of a parent's job. For parents of teens who drive, setting a good example and educating the young drivers on safety could be among the most important lessons of the summer. Smart behavior on the roads could at least help a teen to avoid a fender bender. At best, safe driving will help prevent tragedy.

What it means to you: Take some time now - early in the summer months - to discuss safe driving with your teen. Our five easy tips could help them to avoid tragedy.

author photo

Nick Palermo is an automotive writer and lifelong car nut. He follows new and late-model used vehicles for AutoTrader.com, writes about vintage cars for Hemmings Classic Wheels and blogs on all things automotive at LivingVroom. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and twins.

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