Most parents have mixed feelings when their teen reaches driving age. On the one hand, it’s normal to think about all the time you can save if your teen can drive themselves. Conversely, there is the visceral fear that teens are still developing their cognitive and judgment functions. They can get hurt – or even killed – in an auto accident. After all, we know that car crashes are the leading cause of preventable deaths for teenagers.
Here are a few insights that can prepare you for when your teen starts driving. This knowledge can ease your anxiety and help make your teen a safer driver.
Teens will drive like their parents: They may not like to admit it, but teens are much influenced by you. Do you speed up to run yellow lights, turn without signaling, or speed? Guess who’s watching? It’s a good idea to review the same current traffic regulation manual that your teen is pouring over. Not only can you set a good example, but it’ll give you and your teen a handy conversation starter.
Distracted driving is a dangerous temptation for teens: And it’s not just texting while driving. According to one legal source, the four leading causes of distracted driving are eating in the car, talking to passengers, electronic device use and grooming. Again, parents need to set a good example. Do you text or look at your phone while driving? Do you look at your teen when speaking to them or keep your eyes on the road while conversing? Make sure your teen understands that even looking at something on the side of the road or adjusting the stereo can lead to an accident.
Teens aren’t bad drivers; they’re just inexperienced: Many states require that teens log 40-50 hours driving before applying for a license. This is when parents can influence their teen’s safety most. Cover your expectation and that there will be consequences if your teen disobeys
the rules. Teen insurance costs are expensive. Ensure your teen understands that the good habits you advocate will protect their new driving privilege.
It’s clear: parents are the most essential determinant of safe teen driving. Sure, teens will take driving courses and study driving regulations. But what their parents say and do is what keeps teens safe.