Tips for Teen Drivers and Their Parents

With school back in session, there will be more inexperienced drivers on the road.  Teens that now have their driver’s license will want to drive themselves to school instead of “uncool” transportation methods such as riding the bus or being dropped off by mom or dad.  With this new freedom comes a lot of responsibility and in many cases teens take it for granted.  Driving can be very dangerous for an inexperienced teen. 

To help your teen become a safer driver, here are some tips that can help.

  • Practice with your teen – Even though they have their license, practice makes perfect. If you are going out as a family, let your teen drive so you can monitor their progress and help them along the way. This will also help them to be more comfortable with multiple people in the car.
  • Limit or prohibit cell phone use. Even for an experienced driver, using a cell phone while driving can be distracting. Teach your teen to pull over to the side of the road to answer a call, or have them turn off their phone completely. It is important to also be cognizant of your teen’s texting habits. Texting is a popular way for teens to communicate and is very dangerous if conducted while driving.
  • Teach your teen how the car works. – When a teen first learns to drive a car they are so focused on the task at hand, that sometimes it is difficult for them to adapt to the outside environment if it changes. If the windows fog up, it starts to rain, or is getting darker, a teen may not know initially how to correct these situations. Teach them where the buttons are for the various functions of the car. Show them how to turn on the windshield wipers, front & rear defroster and headlights. If you have multiple cars in your household, routinely practice on all vehicles so they are very comfortable if they should need to use any of these functions in any vehicle.
  • Prepare mentally. – This is for the driver and the teacher. Parents need to have the right attitude while teaching and observing. Understand that your teen will make mistakes, and be prepared to handle the situation if it is not going as planned. Parents need to keep cool and stay calm. By doing this, you will help to keep your teen calm and collected while they are learning. You also need to prepare your teen mentally. Make sure they know the responsibility and dangers that are involved without scaring them.
  • Watch your habits. – Many people learn by watching and then doing. As a parent, study your own driving habits to make sure that you are practicing what you preach. Sending mixed signals is not what you want to do when teaching a young person how to drive. Follow your own rules and don’t make excuses if you should happen to break one. Own up to your mistake, and discuss what could have happened because of your lapse in judgment.

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