Sure, your teen is excited to hit the road, but we can almost guarantee that you’re feeling a little anxious about it. While it’s impossible to predict what other drivers will do on the road, it is possible to arm your son or daughter with the right knowledge to ensure they drive safe and say “no” to risky driving behavior.
Aside from driver’s education and behind-the-wheel training, there are several things you can do as a parent of a teen driver to instill good driving ethics into your teen. One of the best options is to practice with your teen one-on-one to review their driving behavior in person. Here are 3 items to address during that time.
Review Distracted Driving
Distracted driving is dangerous, claiming more than 3,400 lives in 2016 alone. Cell phone use, rubbernecking, and passenger-caused distractions rank as the top 3 distractions we face on the road today. Our lives are busy and hectic; multitasking, however, is not something that should be done on the road.
Even some “minor” behaviors can turn dangerous when behind the wheel. Using your car’s infotainment systems, eating, and even fiddling with the window controls can lure your attention away from the road. Explain the dangers of these to your teen, and make sure they understand that any attention taken away from the road ahead qualifies as a distraction, and potentially a dangerous one.
Stick to the Rules
We all know that we’re supposed to follow the rules of the road, from adhering to the speed limit to coming to a complete stop at stop signs. Unfortunately, however, some drivers develop unsafe habits.
We’ve all witnessed drivers speed past us on the highway. Though it may get you where you’re going a little faster, it carries costly and dangerous consequences. Speeding is this violation behind more than 50% of all tickets issued to teen drivers in California. Encourage your child to stick to the speed limit. If they’re feeling rushed, tell them to leave a bit early to ensure they arrive on time.
Don’t forget to brush up on other traffic laws during your time together. Be sure your child makes complete stops at stop signs, uses the turn signal regularly, and allows for ample space from the car ahead of them.
Enforce the State’s Rules as Well as Your Own
The State of California has implemented rules meant to reduce dangerous driving behavior and keep teen drivers safe, but you may want to go the extra mile and establish your own rules as well. Young drivers aren’t allowed to drive between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. or transport any passengers under the age of 20 during the first year they have their license unless they’re driving with a licensed adult who is over 25 in California.
According to the California DMV, teen drivers are 3 times more likely to get into a crash after 9 p.m. than they are earlier in the day. Establishing an earlier curfew for your teen may help them avoid an accident. Statistics from the DMV also show that a teen’s risk of being involved in a fatal crash increases as the number of passengers in the car increases. Limit the number of friends your child may drive—even after their initial year behind the wheel has ended.