A driver’s license is considered by most teens as a stepping stone in their quest for independence as young adults. Once they have their operator’s or driving permit, they have the ability to visit friends, go out on their own, and get from A to B whenever necessary.
Learning to drive is stressful and teens need help and support from their parents as they go through the complex, and at times, confusing process of learning how to drive and safely handle a car.
As a parent, you can assist your children to learn how to drive safely and responsibly, and in so doing minimize the risk of accident or injury. This is an onerous responsibility, as statistics show that teens are three times more likely to have an accident than older drivers and they account for nearly 30 percent of the total costs of vehicle-related injuries.
In this article, we’ll go through some useful driving tips that all parents of teens should know. Keep on reading to learn more.
Before your teen even starts to drive as a student, it’s a good idea to set some ground rules. These should be clearly laid out and discussed at length to ensure that your teen understands the reasons for the rules and agrees to abide by them. There should be consequences for ignoring rules such as withdrawal of privileges, but the most important point is that your teen understands that the ground rules are there for his or her own safety. The ground rules should include topics like driving under proper supervision, wearing of safety belts, speeding, and traffic violations.
Setting a Good Example
Teens mimic their parent’s behavior, so it’s important to take care that you drive safely in accordance with the rules of the road. Make sure you don’t jump traffic lights or speed and ensure you wear your seat belt. Remove distractions such as loose objects rolling around in the car, don’t fiddle with the radio or CD player while driving, and put your cell phone away. Distracted driving can be as deadly as drunk driving. If your teen sees you leaning over and selecting a CD from your glove box or reading a text while you are driving, they will do the same. The second and third most frequent causal factors in car accidents are speeding and being distracted (can you guess the first cause of fatal auto accidents?).
Be consistent with your driving and don’t wait until your teen is about to start driving to turn over a new leaf. If you have always driven aggressively without proper consideration for other users and then suddenly change your driving style, your teen will notice. The most effective method of coaching your teen in good driving techniques is to consistently drive carefully.
Allocate Time for Practice
The law generally requires that teens drive under supervision for 12 months before they take their driving test. Additionally, some states require that they keep a logbook and complete a minimum number of driving hours before they can take a driving test. Give your teen the opportunity to drive whenever the road conditions permit safe driving. Make use of formal instruction from a driving instructor to develop the correct basic skills and reinforce this by giving your teen plenty of practice. Start off by letting your teen drive easy and frequently used routes and, as skills develop, provide opportunities for driving in more difficult conditions. The goal is to reach the point where your teen is completely comfortable driving a car in all driving conditions. If you live in a big city, make sure to take your teen onto highways and country roads to learn how to handle a car safely at higher speeds.
If you’re nervous about teaching your teen how to drive properly, it might be a good idea to sign your teen up for an online drivers ed course. You can see a bunch of reviews of online drivers ed courses here.
Be aware that teens are subject to peer pressure, especially after they have obtained their driver’s permits. This could include pressure to drive fast, to drive while under the influence of alcohol, and to generally take risks by driving recklessly. Coach them on the importance of resisting those pressures and encourage them to speak up and explain to peers why they will not take risks.
Apart from the consequences of being stopped by the police, the personal risk to themselves and their passengers is high. If someone is injured or worse or the car is wrecked, the financial, legal and other ramifications will affect their lives for a long time.
Give Your Full Attention
When you teach your teens to drive, always give them your full attention. You don’t want them to think that you’re doing this half-heartedly. They might find it harder to listen if they feel you’re being forced to teach them how to drive. One way to ensure they don’t feel this way is by making sure you are giving specific instructions every time you want your teen to do or learn something. You have to be careful at how you phrase your instructions as well. Never forget that you are teaching someone who is only learning how to drive.
If you simply tell them to turn left, unless you’ve already taught them before, they won’t know when or how because it’s their first time doing it. So instead of simply saying, “turn left”, make it clearer by giving your teen some time to think, say “when you reach that corner, you’ll need to turn left by slowly turning the wheel towards that direction.” Just be specific so that he or she will know exactly what needs to be done.
Let Them Take the Initiative
This does not apply to every teenager, but most of them would want to prove they know what they’re doing at this point in their lives. Driving may just be a means of getting from point A to point B for you, but learning this skill for the first time is something more meaningful for them. In some ways, it’s a symbol of independence, their key to freedom, so they won’t like it if you make them feel they’re not ready yet.
So my advice is to always wait on them to ask for help if they don’t know what to do. Let them take the initiative and don’t spoon-feed them with the information they don’t want to know about yet. More importantly, if they did something wrong, don’t reprimand them nor remind them of the consequences. Trust me, they know it! But they won’t be aware that they’re doing it unless they’ve experienced it first hand – that’s why you’re there to guide them. So how can you correct their mistakes without making them feel they are doing it wrong? The best approach is to ask questions. If they’re overspeeding, ask them what the speed limit is so they can remind themselves.
Online Driver’s Education Courses
Successful completion of a driver’s education course is usually a requirement before your teen can sit for a learner’s permit. Many states accept approved online courses that offer several advantages over classroom driver’s education in that learning can be done at your teen’s own pace and at a time that is convenient. In many cases, student comprehension is much higher with online learning.
Learning to drive is demanding for everyone concerned, and the most important role that parents can play is to provide support and guidance to their youngsters as they learn how to drive. Teenagers are faced with many pressures to succeed and your role as a parent is crucially important in helping them develop the confidence and ability to drive safely.
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