The time has come for your kid to join the millions of drivers on the road today. This can be one of the most nerve-wracking moments in a parent’s life. Your child is branching out on their own and becoming more and more independent. As a parent, you want to ensure that you’ve done all that you can for your kids to be as safe as possible. Naturally, this includes when they get behind the wheel and start driving.
Teenagers are sometimes known to throw caution to the wind. Unfortunately, this is even more common in teen drivers. Parents can do their part by promoting safe driving habits early on in their teen’s driving careers. More importantly, this is the best chance that parents will have in shutting down dangerous driving habits before they begin. Not only can this help teen drivers avoid getting into accidents, but it can also help lower their insurance premiums and keep them low. The following strategies can help you shape your teen into a safe and confident driver.
1. Sign Them up for a Professional Driving Course
With teen drivers, a professional driving course is often a good place to start. Your teen will receive personal instruction from professionals in a safe and regulated environment. Additionally, driving programs usually have cars with special equipment that are outfitted for instruction. Commonly known as dual control, a driving instructor will have access to a duplicate steering wheel, brake and accelerator so they can take control if a student makes a mistake or panics.
A professional driving course will give your teen a chance to get comfortable being in the driver’s seat and maneuvering a car for the first time. Also, a trained instructor is more familiar with inexperienced drivers which gives them a unique insight into gauging what a teen driver is ready to handle. Many insurance companies also offer discounts for completing a driver training program. Overall, teen drivers of all experience levels can benefit from the instruction of a professional driving teacher.
2. Teach Your Teen About Defensive Driving
Teens that are just beginning to drive usually haven’t picked up advanced scanning or other defensive driving techniques. Most beginning drivers try to be so focused that they only pay attention to the road in front of them. Instead, these tips can help your teen drive defensively and avoid risks on the road.
- Avoid aggressive driving– Leave plenty of space between you and the car in front of you. Before switching lanes, make sure you have an ample amount of room between the cars around you. Avoid switching lanes frequently to get ahead in traffic.
- Scan your surroundings frequently – Check your mirrors and surroundings frequently. Look out for aggressive drivers and potential obstacles in your way. Slow down and avoid any risky driving situations.
- Do not assume other drivers will be safe – When driving, it’s best to assume and prepare for other drivers to make bad decisions. Keep a safe distance and be prepared to react to the worst-case scenarios.
3. Talk to Your Teenager about Impaired Driving
Driving while impaired can significantly increase the risk of a car accident. Impaired driving includes driving under the influence and while drowsy. Unfortunately, the mix of driving inexperience and impairment makes teenagers the drivers most likely to be in a car accident. Car accidents are the largest cause of death for teens from the ages of 15 to 19. Talk to your teen about preventing car accidents by never driving while impaired.
Driving Under the Influence
It is important that your teenager understands the potential consequences of drinking and driving, both legally and within your household. When you talk to them about dealing with peer pressure surrounding drinking, let them know that they can call you for a ride in any circumstance. Being supportive and non-judgmental with your teen can possibly make the all difference in their decisions about drinking and driving.
Driving While Drowsy
Drowsy driving is also incredibly common in teenagers and other inexperienced drivers. In fact, driving while sleepy is quite possibly more common than drinking and driving. This can lead to disaster because being sleepy can impair your judgment, vision, hand-eye coordination, and reaction times just as much as alcohol and drugs. Make sure your teen knows some of the common indicators of drowsiness in drivers including:
- Having trouble focusing on the road or keeping their eyes open.
- Frequent yawning or eye rubbing.
- Drifting from their lanes or missing signs.
- Having to turn their radio up or roll down the windows to maintain focus.
- A slower reaction time.
If your teen driver notices any of these signs, they should pull over somewhere safe and take a power nap, drink some caffeine, or let someone else drive if possible. To avoid sleepy driving, talk to your teen about avoiding driving late at night.
4. Make Sure Your Teen Drives a Safe Car
Auto manufacturers have started to offer cars with safety features that can help teens avoid distracted driving and stay aware of their surroundings. Some of these features include blind spot monitoring, lane departure warnings, and backup cameras. Additionally, cars with safety features may be eligible for insurance discounts. Saving money and keeping your teenager safe are both great reasons to finance a new vehicle with added safety features.