Ten Tips For Teaching Your Teen to Drive Safely
There are many factors contributing to the high number of accidents caused by teen drivers; inexperience, the risk taker/invincibility mentality, speeding and racing, and distractions such as having friends in the car or using a cell phone. With the chance of a teen being involved in a fatal accident 4 times that of an adult it is important to instill safe driving habits in your teen from the first time they get behind the wheel- rather than having them learn the hard way by being involved in serious collision.
1. Enroll your teen in defensive driving courses
There are a lot of different types of driver education, but they are not all the same. Enrolling your teenager in a good defensive driving school is perhaps one of the best things you can do to increase their safety on the road. Defensive driving schools teach students how to deal with dangerous driving scenarios in a controlled environment. These classes teach students how to deal with hydroplaning, snow and other conditions that will be thrown their way through the course of their life. Defensive Driving schools have a great track record with 80% fewer of their students being involved in an accident compared with those in other driving courses. These schools are also great at helping calm your teen’s belief that they are invincible by showing them the intense danger drivers face and the great responsibility they have behind the wheel.
2. Allow your teens to drive
I know this can be nerve racking at times, but before throwing your child to the wolves they must get in ample time behind the wheel with a calm instructor able to lead them through the process. When you are going to the grocery store, school, sports practice or driving to grandma’s house, let your student take the wheel so they can get as many driving hours in as possible. Practice may not make them perfect drivers but it will definitely make them better.
3. Give constructive criticism
Don’t simply grip the handle for dear life and pound your non-existent passenger-side brake pedal! Help your child become aware of road hazards by pointing them out along the way. Calmly get your teen to take notice of different hazards and inform them of the correct action to take. By calmly pointing out hazards that await down the road it will teach your child to look beyond the car in front of them and pay close attention to the shoulders of the road as well as the vehicles two or three cars ahead.
4. Don’t yell in the car!
Studies show that yelling at the new driver makes them nervous and hinders their driving abilities. Calmly let them know how to deal with situations and don’t over react. When they get a little too close for comfort to mail boxes or are pulling into a tight parking spot calmly inform them before it is too late. When you are riding with an inexperienced driver your eyes and experience must be are imperative and your job is to pay extra close attention.
5. Review the ride
Each time you ride with your teen talk to them afterwards about the drive and provide a constructive critique. Review the good and the bad. This will give them a chance to learn from their mistakes that they may not even be aware they made without the stress of operating a vehicle. Saving your yelling and critical critiques for home, once they have stopped driving.
6. Share the responsibility
Have your child help share the costs of driving by paying for part of the insurance, gas etc. If they are financially invested in driving they will realize that nothing is free and will have a greater respect for their car and the road.
7. Ride periodically with your license-holding teen
Even after they get their license ride with them every so often to check out their driving skills.
8. Set and enforce rules
Set rules on nighttime driving, how many passengers may occupy the car and where they may go with the car. Half of the battle is being proactive and realizing dangers before they rear their ugly head. Most car accidents involving teens occur between 9 pm and 6 am. With limited visibility and the increased risk of hazards such as animals jumping in front of the car it is important to let your teen become thoroughly acquainted with day time driving before driving alone at night.
9. Give consequences for breaking rules
Outline the rules, conditions, restrictions and consequences if those rules are broken. With losing their license and freedom on the line your teen will think twice before racing their buddies or drinking and driving.
10. Set a good example
If you don’t wear your seatbelt, use your cell phone while driving and are prone to road rage, how do you think your child will drive? Provide a steady example of the behavior you would like your child to exhibit behind the wheel.