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.
The Role of Parents in Teens Driving Habits
Giving your teens the freedom to drive on their own sometimes makes you feel like you’re losing control over how your teen handles their lives, which includes the way they drive.
Despite that growing feeling that you need to let them go and explore on their own, always remember that teens need their parents more than ever when they are starting to learn how to drive.
This is their first step to adulthood, and being there to guide them as they form their driving habits will be a great factor in helping them avoid risky driving behaviors in the future.
You’re their role model, and whether they show it to you or not, your teen has probably been watching your every move whenever they are in the car and you’re behind the wheel, driving. They pick up on the small nuances and every little detail on how you drive.
Simple things such as always wearing a seatbelt and staying off cellphones while driving can instill good driving habits in your teens.
You should also try to be there for them when they request for you to sit beside them when they drive. Use this as an opportunity to introduce them to driving in a variety of conditions while under parental supervision. They’ll be a lot more confident to drive in the rain, or at night, with you guiding them – remember that they can’t learn everything from driving schools or video lessons.
What’s more, don’t hesitate to give them feedback on how they drive. Although they won’t say it, they’ll want to know how they’re doing from the perspective of someone they trust. Just try not to be preachy when you give them advice. You can try explaining things to them as if you’re sharing your own experience. This is to make them more comfortable receiving your feedback.