Whenever you see scenes of people driving recklessly in movies, chances are it involves rowdy teens trying to show off. Well, sadly that’s not too far off from how it is in real life. Teenagers, finally free from being driven everywhere by their parents, often take their newfound freedoms a bit too far. What most teenagers don’t know is that the leading cause of death in teens is due to motor vehicle crashes. In fact, 75% of serious teen vehicle crashes are due to driver error on part of the teenager. What’s worse is that the AAA Foundation has identified that teens between the ages of 16 and 17 are 3x more likely to be involved in a fatal collision. We need to protect our teens from themselves. Here are some tips on how to do that:
Help Them Understand the Power They Are Wielding
Explain to your teen just how powerful the vehicle they’re sitting in is. Cars seem to be pretty harmless to teens and young adults. After all, they made it into their teenage years riding in cars and they’re still here. It’s important to make your teen understand that vehicles, especially those driving faster than the speed limit, have the power to tear families apart, including their own.
Create a Positive Learning Environment
As parents, you need to start the conversation about driving responsibly. You need to be present and engage with your teen while they practice behind the wheel. Make sure you ease your teen into highways or complex driving scenarios only when they’re ready and comfortable to move forward. The most important rule of all is to create an environment that is stress-free. You can do this by staying calm and providing feedback regularly. If your teen fails to follow any expectations you’ve set, rather than getting mad, explain their errors to them.
Teaching Critical Driving Skills
There are 4 key elements to having good critical driving skills: managing speed, avoiding distractions effectively, scanning for road obstructions or hazards, and risk management.
As we get older, we gain a sixth sense for speed limits that new drivers often lack. A great exercise to get your teen to pay attention to speed limit signs is to regularly quiz your teen on the current speed limit. This will instill the need to pay attention to signage. Once your teen leaves the coop, there are apps such as MamaBear that allow you to monitor your teen’s driving speed. Finally, sometimes the only way to instill some sense of responsibility is to tell your teen that if they get a speeding ticket, it’s coming directly out of their allowance…or worse, their paycheck.
Avoiding Distractions Effectively
Mentioned above, the MamaBear app also alerts parents if their teens are texting while driving. You can learn more about how to avoid distracted driving here: 5 Tips to Stop Distracted Driving. https:// www.theparrishlawfirm.com/blog/5-tips-to-stop-distracted-driving/
Scanning for Road Obstructions or Hazards
Teach your teenager to scan for road hazards ahead of time so they can avoid having to make sudden quick decisions on the road. It’s equally as important to know if there are hazards coming from behind them. Teaching them how to use rear mirrors can help them make adjustments on the road when an aggressive driver seems to be approaching. While educating your teenager on how to scan the road, you should also help your teen learn to keep a safe distance from the vehicles in front of them.
We’ve all seen drivers cross 4 lanes of heavy traffic just to avoid missing an exit on the highway. We want your teen to avoid making poor decisions like this at all costs. Taking your exit is not worth the risk of significantly increasing the risk of an accident.
We want your children to be safe on the road. We also want the people they’re driving next to to stay safe and hope these tips will help to positively influence your teen’s driving behaviors.