Getting your driver’s license is a rite of passage – it’s something we look forward to growing up and it means a little bit of freedom, a new milestone in life, and being one step closer to being an adult. As freeing as it is, it comes with numerous risks and adult-sized responsibility. Fortunately, you as the parent can instill good driving habits before and after they get their license. Instill good driving habits before your teen gets his license – lead by example, as they say.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that six teens aged 16 to 19 die every day from injuries as the result of car crashes – this makes them roughly three times more likely to be in a fatal crash than those older than them. Many of these fatal car crashes are preventable, and your child needs to know how much is at stake when getting behind the wheel.
First and foremost: BUCKLE UP! The car doesn’t start until everyone in the car is buckled in – no matter which seat they’re in. As a parent, you can help instill this as a habit before your teen ever gets behind the wheel. You don’t get where you’re going until you’re buckled in properly.
Distractions are a major cause of accidents. While texting may come to mind, so many other activities cause distractions while driving – in both teens and adults. Fixing your hair or putting on lip gloss while driving, fumbling with items in your purse or pocket, talking with passengers and general cell phone use are all distractions. When driving with your teen and other children as passengers, keep the distractions limited. Set an example of pulling over in a parking lot to use the phone or other activities. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states around 10 percent of teens in fatal crashes were distracted.
When teaching your teen how to drive during the learner’s permit time, don’t just focus on the easy(ier) stuff. Take them out in a wide range of weather and times of day – storms, heavy rain, at sunset or sunrise, and when it’s snowy (if you have snowy winters in your area). Take them through the country on winding and/or hilly roads so they can feel the difference firsthand before they do it on their own.
Lead by example
As a parent, teaching your child the ways of the world is part of what you do. Driving is no exception. Lead by example, give them the rules of the road and let them experience different conditions with you before they get out there on their own.