While parents may be eager to let go of some of the driving duties for their kids’ activities, there is often fear over a teen learning how to drive. And for good reason: Car crashes are the number one killer of teens. The younger the teen, the higher the rate of car crashes. Teenage brains are still developing and as a result teens tend to be impulsive and use poor judgment. Poor decisions often include drinking and driving or texting and driving; two of the most risky behaviors when getting behind the wheel.
In addition to demonstrating good driving habits, the best ways to protect our teens behind the wheel are to teach them sound driving skills and emphasize the risks of distracted driving and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Some parents hire a learn-to-drive company for driving lessons but many choose to teach their teenagers. These tips from DMV.org are a great way to help set your teen up for success on the road.
Top tips to teach your teen to drive safely
Before each time that you take your teen out on the road do the following:
• Brush up on the rules of the road by reading your child’s learner’s manual. You don’t want to accidentally contradict a rule and confuse the new driver.
• Discuss the skills you plan to work on during the driving lesson. For example, left hand turns or parallel parking.
• Map the route together before starting the car. For the first few lessons a quiet parking lot or side streets are best.
• Adjust the passenger side mirror so you can use it as a rearview mirror.
Tips while out on the road:
• Keep the first few lessons to 15-20 minutes so your teen doesn’t get overwhelmed. Later lessons may be increased to 30-40 minutes once your teen’s confidence grows.
• Always speak in a calm, steady voice. Do not talk down to them if they make a mistake. They are likely to be nervous and will feed off of your energy.
• Avoid chatter and the radio. Put your cell phone away.
• Give your teenager plenty of warning when a turn or lane change is coming up.
• See yourself as an extra set of eyes responsible for identifying potential dangers such as a tailgater or debris on the road.
• It takes time to develop an understanding of how fast cars are coming toward you; give directions about when it is safe to turn when other cars are around.
After each driving lesson:
• Ask if your teen has any questions and what they want to work on next time.
• Review what was accomplished during the lesson and discuss what you plan to work on next time.
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