Every year, thousands of lives are lost on the road nationwide, and every year, road safety becomes more and more important to teach to our children as they start their journey as new drivers. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, there were 29,989 fatal crashes in 2014 alone, resulting in a total of 32,675 deaths. That’s quite a lot for a single year, and if we want to reduce that number in the coming years, it is imperative to focus on road safety.
Everyone learns how to drive before they go to take their driver’s test; they learn the rules of the road, how to operate their vehicle, what the signs mean, and how to maneuver in a number of circumstances, from heavy traffic to inclement weather. However, as we learn that once and only have to renew our driver’s licenses every few years, a lot of us can forget the importance of the responsibility we take on as drivers as we become caught in the routine of it, and this is only one way that can cause accidents to become more prominent on our roads.
If you want to decrease the risk and become a better driver, one way you can help yourself and others is to take a defensive driving course. I know, I know – the last thing anyone wants to do is take another driving course, but it really helps! These courses take you back through all of the important safety and preventative measures to help you become the safest driver you can be, both for yourself and all the other drivers around you. You not only learn how to maneuver your vehicle in all conditions and maintain a vehicle that is safe to drive, but you also learn how to anticipate the actions of those around you to prevent an accident before it happens, and that’s honestly the best kind of driver to be: a defensive one.
There’s another benefit of going through defensive driving courses as well, and that’s the knowledge that you can pass on to your children. Teaching the existing generation the importance of road safety isn’t enough; we need to pass these life-saving habits on to them as well! In case you’re not sure where to start, we’ve taken the liberty of compiling a few important safe driving habits you can pass on to your children before they even start to learn how to drive – that’s right, you don’t have to wait until they’re a teenager before you start teaching them! Teaching young children safety rules of the road is a great way to ensure the information is ingrained in them so it’s more likely to remain at the forefront of their minds when they finally hit the road.
The first is to always look where you’re going, and be mindful of your surroundings. This is generally taught when kids are learning how to safely cross the street, but it’s just as important in a vehicle! After all, you’re sharing the road with thousands of other drivers, and if you don’t look where you’re going and have no idea what’s going on around you, you’re more likely to cause or become part of an accident.
Second is one that we are reminded of fairly consistently, but that some still manage to forget: Always wear your seatbelt. Seatbelts are made to help keep us from harm in the event of a collision, and is just as, if not more important as wearing a helmet while riding a bike. When they work with our airbags in a vehicle, they can keep us from suffering a lot of damage from things such as:
- Flying forward and hitting the windshield;
- Being thrown from the vehicle;
- Moving around in the vehicle and hitting the steering wheel, doors, etc.
Third, remaining calm while driving can teach both patience and keep you alert while driving, so you can think clearly when it really matters. Think about it: When you are angry, frustrated, or upset, you’re really only focusing on that one thing – the other driver or pedestrian or traffic situation that caused you to be upset – and that pulls the focus on the other drivers on the road. Being upset while driving is a distraction, and can get you and likely someone else harmed, because you aren’t prepared for anything.
The next thing you can teach young is the rules of the road, as well as what the traffic signs and signals mean. This one is easy, because you can make it a game! If you’re constantly emphasizing the rules and signs while you’re driving – whether you’re on a short commute or long road trip – will keep them at the front of their minds. If you’re doing this, you can then point out the signs or ask them questions to ensure they aren’t just listening, but maintaining the information, and reward them when they get the answer right! If they get the answer wrong, take the opportunity to educate them again on the rules, and ask them if they have any questions to ensure clarity for next time.
These are just a few ways you can teach them, and the best part is, you’re making sure you’re constantly aware as well just by participating in teaching your children. Just one safer driver on the road can make a huge difference; imagine what it would be like to drive on the road if we all tried a little harder to be better! Sure, accidents happen, but if we work together to educate ourselves and the generations after us the importance of road safety, we can work our way toward making that number lower and lower each year, and save thousands of lives as a result.