5 ways to teach teens safe driving habits
When it comes time to teach your teenager how to drive, your mind is probably racing with thoughts. There are so many things you want to communicate to your child. And because this is so important, there are lots of things you don’t want to forget.
But don’t worry. You have plenty of time to teach your child safe driving habits.
Focus on the most important things first, and then everything else will fall into place. Remember that you’re going to have plenty of driving sessions to cover all the rules. So take a deep breath as we explore five ways you can teach your teen safe driving habits.
1. Lead by example
Long before your teenager gets behind the wheel, he or she is learning how to drive. It may seem crazy, but it’s true. You’ve always known that your kids learn best by example, and this is no different. Your children have been watching you drive ever since you turned their car seats to front facing. Have you been setting a good example? If not, it’s time to set things straight. Address the things you’ve been doing wrong. Tell your teenager that you’ve realized these are bad habits and you’re trying to turn them around. Show him or her how to do better and show them how you’re trying to do better for yourself too.
2. Practice in all conditions
It’s one thing to review the rules of the road, and it’s another thing entirely to experience what it’s like to drive. This is why there’s a hands-on portion of the driving test before a teenager can drive on their own. So don’t rely on words to tell your child what to do when the road conditions are less than stellar. Make sure your child learns through experience while you’re there. Start by going out for drives in sunny conditions. Once your child masters the basics, try a session in light rain. Then move up to more torrential rain.
3. Highlight the avoidable dangers
When you highlight dangers, your goal is to teach your child how to avoid them (not to instill fear). Texting and driving is one of the biggest dangers teenagers face while driving. Teens today have become so accustomed to checking their phones, that it’s difficult to avoid when driving. You can combat this by installing hands-free devices into the car and downloading an app that will send autoreplies while your teen is driving. You should also take this time to review the local laws for distracted driving. For example, California cell phone law bans the use of handheld mobile phones while driving – with very few exceptions. And this rule is a common one throughout the country.
Drinking and driving is another danger to discuss with your teen. Let your child know that you’re willing to pick them up from anywhere without judgment if they’re too drunk to drive. Alternatively, you can also send a taxi.
4. Enlist the help of a professional
Teaching a teenager to drive takes a lot of patience. And to be honest, not every parent is cut out for the task. If you feel like this job isn’t suited for you, it doesn’t make you any less of a parent. None of us can get through life without help, so the key is understanding our own limits. Professional driving instructors are trained to teach teens (and adults) to drive in a calm and patient manner. And they also have a brake on their side that helps them remain calm and in control.
5. Get lots of practice
Whether you’re the one giving the lessons or someone else, make sure your teen has lots of practice before he or she actually gets a driver’s license. For best (and safest) results, go above and beyond the required minimum number of practice hours.
This can be a stressful time for parents and teens, but if you keep your cool and reinforce safe habits, you’ll have less to worry about as your teen starts driving alone.