If you are a parent who has a teen that is already driving or nearing the day they will be permitted to drive, there are a few tips we feel are important for you to be aware of that will help prevent your teen from engaging in a collision. As you may know, teen drivers are more susceptible to being involved in an accident than any other age group. In an effort to keep these young adults safe, below we share a few tips families can begin implementing if they have a teen that is learning how to drive.
- Allow teens to get plenty practice in as they lack experience, says Johnathon Ehsani who is an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health Center for Injury Research and Policy [New York Times]. The more practice a teen gets while behind the wheel, the more comfortable they become with driving, and the less likely you are to almost have a heart attack every time they are behind the wheel.
- Ehsani also stated that, “Parents should encourage and supervise practice driving in more varied environments, and not fall into the habit of accumulating practice hours just driving in routine conditions to places they already know.” The fact is, we drive on a variety of roadways each and every day and it is important that teens get exposed to these different conditions.
- When a teen is learning to drive, it is important that parents also create consequences for reckless or inappropriate behavior displayed while driving to discourage it from happening again. For instance, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration(NHTSA) recommends that parents give their teen a consequence when they drive distracted. Whether it is suspending their driving privileges or reducing their time to drive, reinforcing that distracted behavior is not going to increase their driving abilities; rather it will reduce it. Discouraging distracted driving will only help to keep them safe.
- Lead by example. When a parent is teaching their teen to drive, they should be displaying all of the types of behavior they expect from their teen when they are driving. Remember, as a role model for your teen, you should always keep your eyes on the road, hands on the wheel, and avoid engaging in any type of behavior that will distract your attention away from the roadway. For example, if you have a miniature mid-life crisis and suddenly get the desire to see if your soccer mom/dad mini-van can beat the new Mustang next to you in a drag race, take a deep breath, go home and find a new hobby instead. (Unless you know something we do not, we are saving you from some serious embarrassment too)
- Consider holding off on buying your teen a new car. The NHTSA says that “According to a study by GHSA (Governors Highway Safety Association), when a teen first gets their driver’s license, he or she is more likely to speed in their own vehicle versus driving the family sedan. If possible, parents should choose larger, newer cars rather than high-performance vehicles.” More than this however, every kid needs to be humbled at some point in their life, and if the kid is truly grateful, they will be ok driving any car. Please do not make your kid the guy at every high school who flies into the parking lot in their new Mustang, running late to class, and parks horribly. Now if they do this in any non-sports car that is super beat up and old, than this would be an absolute power move.