5 Ways to Keep Your Kids Safe When the Baby Sitter's Driving

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — If you're away at work this summer, and you've hired a baby sitter to watch the kids, sooner or later they're all going to get in the car and drive somewhere.

On the surface, that's fine.

After all, you don't want the kids in the house all day, and a trip to the community pool or a drive to the local ice cream parlor is a good time and keeps the young ones busy and happy.

But young drivers being young drivers, parents may well worry about the experience their sitter has behind the wheel and any bad habits they may bring to the driver's seat with them.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the risk of motor vehicle crashes is higher among 16- to 19-year-olds than among any other age group.

The CDC cites the following risk factors for teenage drivers — none of which will likely ease the mind of parents who hire baby sitters to watch their kids, and drive them around:

  • Teens are more likely than older drivers to underestimate dangerous situations or not be able to recognize hazardous situations.
  • Teens are more likely than older drivers to speed and allow shorter headways (the distance from the front of one vehicle to the front of the next).
  • Compared with other age groups, teens have the lowest rate of seat belt use. In 2011, only 54% of high school students reported they always wear seat belts when riding with someone else.

Nobody is suggesting that baby sitters — usually teenage girls, whom the CDC says are more careful behind the wheel than teenage boys — are reckless and dangerous drivers.

It's just that they are kids, too, and don't have deep experience driving with younger children in the car.