Did you know that statistics show that 40% of teens are likely to get in an accident during their first few years of driving? Do you want your teen to be part of that statistic? Of that 40%, about five and a half thousand end up dead, and another two to three hundred thousand get hurt in some way. So, what can you do to protect your teen, and help make them crash proof? Consider the following:
1. Driver’s education is not enough, you have to drive with them a lot. Driver’s education is more about the laws and basics of driving, teaching your kids how to drive safely is more your responsibility. The best way to learn to drive safe, and be crash proof, is to be taught correctly from the beginning. If you take the time to drive with your child, and help them learn what their tendencies are that are unsafe, and how to correct them, your teen will be a much safer driver.
2. Do not let yourself get angry with them, or they won’t listen to you. As soon as you get frustrated with how they are driving, the faster the defenses go up, and the less time you have to teach. So, take a breather if they are making you nervous, or drive back roads and parking lots until you are confident they can handle the car.
3. Start slow. Give them a chance to learn the feel of the car, things like how hard they need to brake, crank the wheel to turn, where their blind spots are, etc. Your car is as big a part of driving safely as you are, so take things slow giving them many opportunities for driving and getting comfortable with their car. Soon, how hard to press on the brakes, and how to turn the wheel to get the desired effect will be second nature.
4. Supervise practicing driving in every possible condition. Once they have their license you won’t have as much control over the conditions they drive in, so make sure you practice everything they might run into while you are driving with them. Drive in rain. Drive in traffic. Merge onto a freeway. Drive in stop and go. Supervise experiences and talk them through them so that your words stick in their heads when they face them on their own.
5. Set rules for while driving. Talking on cell phones, cranking music up, talking to friends, etc. can all distract teens and make them poor drivers. Talk to your teen about the risks, and set some rules with them about what they will and won’t do while driving.
6. Talk to your teen about things like tail gaiting and running yellow lights. Teens have natural tendencies to speed through lights, and follow closely behind people. Tell them that if they can’t count to three, or if they can’t see the wheels of the car in front of them, they are too close.
7. Help your teen learn to drive defensively and anticipate hazards. Most teens are only aware of the car in front of them. Teach them to be aware of the bigger picture, especially when doing things like changing lanes, merging, etc. it will make them much better drivers.
8. Limit the amount they drive with friends in the car. Friends are one of the biggest distractions teens have, so for the first few months at least, don’t allow them to drive their friends around.
9. Be specific about what you expect. You can’t just say, “Drive safe” you have to say, “Pay attention to the cars around you.” Be specific about what you want, and specifically address any of the problems they have when driving. You can say, “You follow too closely, I want you to back off.”
10. Practice, practice, practice.