Most Important Safety Feature for Teen Drivers: Their Parents If you're the parent of a teen getting their license you'll want to follow this advice. BY SARA PARKER
Sleep a little easier as your teen cruises the streets by teaching them the rules of the road.
“ To deal with distracted driving, you may want to set limits on the number of passengers allowed in your teen's car.”
Time may have snuck up on you, but believe it or not, your teenager is now old enough to drive—and that may be terrifying. Think your teen is ready to get behind the wheel? As a parent, your job is to make them feel prepared and comfortable before venturing out on the open road.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, six teenagers, on average, die every day in car crashes. Of course, you don't want your child to become another statistic, so it's up to you to teach them a wealth of safe-driving habits. Here are a few tips to help get you started:
Know the Dangers
Whether you're a novice driver or quite experienced behind the wheel, the dangers of driving impact virtually everyone. Teens, of course, are no exception. In fact, the CDC lists eight major dangers impacting teen drivers, which include:
1. Inexperience behind the wheel 2. Distractions from fellow teen passengers 3. Dangers and risks associated with nighttime driving 4. Passengers not fastening their seat belts 5. Distracted driving, including texting, eating or playing with the radio 6. Feelings of drowsiness 7. Acting reckless behind the wheel 8. Being impaired (i.e., under the influence of drugs or alcohol) while driving
All of these examples are leading causes of car crashes among teens—and all of them can be prevented. That's why it's important to sit down with your teen to review these dangers and develop a plan to minimize risks. For example, to help your teen gain more experience behind the wheel, the CDC suggests setting aside 30 to 50 hours over a six-month period to help them learn how to drive in a variety of road and weather conditions, as well as at different locations and times of the day.
To deal with distracted driving, you may want to set limits on the number of passengers allowed in your teen's car. Additionally, you can install apps on their smartphone that will disable all calls and texts while they're driving. It's also important you discuss these dangers and identify solutions with your teen so they understand the consequences of unsafe driving.
Model Good Behavior
When your teen is learning how to drive, understand you're their biggest influence. Case in point: If you get impatient and angry in traffic, chances are they may choose to model that behavior, too. Likewise, if you change lanes erratically and don't always use your turn signal, your teen may begin to think it's OK to mimic this type of behavior.
Of course, modeling good driving behaviors and habits—and pointing out various dos and don'ts—should start well before your child becomes a teenager, as it never hurts to ingrain in them early on what they should avoid. You may also want to get in the habit of reviewing driving manuals and practice tests with your teen to brush up on the rules of the road.
Then, make sure to adhere to all of those rules and model good behavior when you're driving. For example, if you decide to park on the street, remind your teen to never park too close to a fire hydrant or in no-parking zones. And if someone cuts you off in traffic, show your teen how to remain calm and to not react aggressively.
Establishing some clearly defined rules of the road before your teen starts driving is a must. In fact, the CDC recommends creating a parent-teen driving contract, which should cover the safe-driving behaviors they promise to follow, like wearing a seat belt and not driving impaired.
This contract should also include any restrictions you may want to put in place when your teen first gets their driver's license before proving themselves to be capable and responsible. Some of these restrictions may include:
* Not driving at night * Not driving more than three or four passengers * Not driving in bad weather
Finally, your parent-teen driving contract should include some consequences for breaking the rules, like not being able to drive for a certain period of time.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Many accidents involving teens come down to inexperience. With that in mind, make sure to sit shotgun with your teen as much as possible before they earn their driver's license. Start off slow by driving in parking lots and quiet neighborhoods before moving to major roads and highways.
Additionally, you should always model good behavior and stay calm when giving your teen instructions and advice. Remind them about the rules of the road as they're driving so they eventually become habit. In the end, the more safe-driving practice you demonstrate and instill in your teen, the more likely they are to adopt these behaviors on their own.
Sara is a word nerd and storyteller at heart. From fixing grammar mistakes as an editor to writing anything from lifestyle how-tos to cloud computing articles, she loves fitting words together to connect with people.