Four Important Tips for Teaching Your Teens Safe Driving

My oldest is nearly a teenager (and honestly, from the way he acts and is independent, it really is already a teenager even if by age he's still a preteen). The thought that soon he'll be old enough to drive is honestly pretty scary. Because teens who drive can make serious and even deadly mistakes. If your teen is learning how to drive, here's some tips on how to keep them safe.

Part of me is kind of glad getting a drivers license is so difficult and expensive locally, which means that my kid won't start driving at quite such a young age, so I have more time to breathe.

Seeing your teen learn to drive can be a bit scary at first, but it’s their first step on the way towards independence. However, it’s important to understand the statistics to help your teen have a better and safer journey to and from home each day. For instance, according to the Centers for Disease Control’s Teen Driver Fact Sheet, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among teens. Of course, this isn’t a very optimistic approach to handing over the keys to a car. And while you don’t want to scare them with statistics, knowing the facts can help you be a better teacher and help your teen become more aware of the road and their place on it.

Teach Them About the Vehicle

One of the first steps a teen should take towards safe driving is learning more about the vehicle they’ll be practicing in. Just because they know how to navigate turn signals and use the console doesn’t mean they necessarily understand the car. They should have a thorough understanding of what the various dashboard lights and signals mean, how to use the windshield wipers, how to check and change the oil, how to add air, and even how to fix a flat tire. The more confident they are with the car they’re in, the more likely they are to feel confident and secure on the road.

Check Your Teaching Skills

Teaching anyone how to do anything requires careful and considerate actions. Unless you’re a teacher, chances are you don’t typically provide instructions on learning a new skill. For this reason, it’s important that you always keep your teaching skills in check. Give your teen the chance to take their own action, and remain calm as they learn—remember, it’s natural to make mistakes when you’re learning something for the first time. This is why it’s important to start in safe, open spaces like a parking lot before you move on to slow-paced residential streets and then onto highways and busy areas.

For example, instead of always correcting them when they make a mistake, ask questions. Rather than warn them about going above the speed limit, ask them, “What’s the speed limit in this area?” This encourages them to check on their on, and make a corrective action. Asking questions rather than giving demands allows them to think and practice problem solving on their own. These questions also stay with them when they’re driving alone.

Don’t Drink & Drive

This tip may seem arbitrary, but one in four fatal teen car crashes occur because of drunk driving. Underage teens are in an experimental age, where they’re trying things they aren’t supposed to for the first time. Do your best to convey to them the importance of not drinking and driving. According to the Barnes Firm, Oakland car accident lawyers, you can take your preventative measures up a notch by implementing technology to ensure your teen doesn’t do this. In the future, lawmakers want to incorporate technology into cars that automatically prevents drunk driving (several vehicle manufacturers are testing alcohol sensors in steering wheels), but for now, you’ll need to take matters into your own hands.

For starters, current Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) report data on your teen’s driving and, based on their driving behaviors, can indicate when the driver is impaired. These systems can also help lower your car costs
if you share the data to determine safe driving, and this level of accountability might be able to keep your teen in check. Then there’s technology like the Breathometer where your teen will have to blow into a mobile-connected device that determines their blood alcohol content level. [Note from Penny: Seriously, how cool are these technological advances?!?!]

Stop Texting

Reports have found that 32.8% of high school students text while driving. Furthermore, half of all teens admit to being in a vehicle where a driving teen was texting and driving. Being on a cell phone can result in distracted driving, which makes it much more likely to get into an accident. In fact, you should encourage them to cut their phone usage altogether as much as possible.

There are certain tools you can offer them to help get them in the right mindset for keeping hands free. For instance, the magnetic phone clips make it easy for teens to navigate the GPS from the dashboard instead of holding their phone in their hands. Vehicles with Bluetooth technology also make it easy to for teens to answer important phone calls without having to change their driving style.

[Note from Penny: Distractions are a big cause of car accidents, especially among teens. This is a big reason why many places have limits on how many passengers a new or young driver can have in their car, because the more people there, the more rowdy it can get, and the more distracting it can be, and the more likely to cause accidents. Even things as simple as a phone ringing can be distracting to a relatively new driver, so its not just texting that should be avoided, but limiting being on the phone, period, while driving is a good idea. Anything to reduce distractions.]

What are your tips to help keep safe while driving, and especially to help your teens learn to drive safely?

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal

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