Having a teenager who is learning to drive is both exciting and scary – exciting because you no longer have to chauffer your teen around and scary because they lack the experience needed to handle difficult or unexpected surprises on the road.
Whether you know it or not, your teen has been observing your driving habits since he or she was in a car seat. Depending on how you drive, your teen may think it’s perfectly acceptable to eat in the car while driving with your knees or put on makeup in heavy traffic. That’s why one of the most important things you can do when teaching your teen safe driving is to set a good example when it comes to driving habits and road manners.
The following are some tips for teaching your teen safe driving by example:
Stay focused on your driving.
One thing you will want to do is make sure you are focused on your own driving. You may have been driving for the past twenty five years and consider yourself experienced enough to multitask, but not only is it unsafe for you and your passengers, but it also sets an unsafe example for your children.
That said, make sure you don’t eat, send text messages, put on makeup, or take your eyes off the road to play with the CD player or radio while driving with your family in the car. In addition, you may set certain guidelines for your teen as he or she learns to drive, such as no talking on the cell phone. Make sure you follow your own rules that you have set for your teenager when he or she is in the car.
Always wear a seatbelt.
Set the example of always wearing a seatbelt. You may have made your kids wear one when they were little, but if you always go without wearing one, chances are your teenager may see not wearing a seatbelt as a privilege of driving a car or something that adults do. In addition, in many states and cities it is illegal to operate a car without a seatbelt.
Be a courteous driver.
Don’t yell at, cut off, or tailgate other cars on the road. This sets a very poor example for your teen when he or she is learning to drive, and in general. Drive on the defensive and exhibit good driving habits. Ask yourself from time to time as you drive if you would approve of your teen driving the same way you’re driving. If you wouldn’t, then you may want to modify your own driving habits.
Point out what you’re doing.
As your teen is learning to drive, you can point out things that will help them learn as well as you do them. For example, if you are driving in the rain, let your teen know that you turn your lights on in the rain. Or, if someone is tailgating you on the freeway, let your teen know that he should change lanes and let the other car pass instead of speeding up or slamming on you brakes.
Learning to drive is an exciting time for your teen. However, he has been watching you drive all his life, so it’s important to set a good example for your teen by showing them through your example proper, safe, and courteous driving habits.