Ways to Keep Your Teen Driver SafeMaking Your Teen a Safer Driver
Do you remember the day you got your driver’s license? Do you remember the sense of freedom? The joy of taking the car out for the first time? That sense of being closer to adulthood?
If you don’t have kids, you probably don’t remember the other side of that freedom. You probably don’t remember your parents worried sick about you taking the car out, or gasping in disbelief over the insurance bills. But if you happen to be the parents of new teen drivers, you probably have a sudden empathy with what your parents went through.
There are quite a few reasons that insurance companies have high rates for teen drivers, and most of them are valid (as much as it pains us to say so.) Inexperienced drivers make mistakes; they drive faster than normal and brake harder than they should. You can also factor in that today’s cars have plenty of distractions that are built in. There are iPod adapters, gps devices, and the ever present cell-phone that always seems to be ringing. And as if talking on the phone while driving wasn’t bad enough, teenagers seem to be more comfortable texting one another than talking to each other, which means that not only are they not paying attention to the road, but they are also taking one hand off of the wheel for extended periods of time.
While you might not be able to do much about the high insurance rates, there are a few simple things you can do to make your teenage driver a more responsible and safer driver, which will not only be good for you teen, but also for everyone else on the road.
- Let Your Teen DRIVE: It’s called a learning permit for a reason. This is a chance for your teenager to gain real word driving experience. Let them gain it by driving you everywhere. To church, to the mall, to school, to anywhere you need to go. While this will no doubt be stressful for you, it is better for your teen to have more driving experience than less.
- Critique the Drive: Let your teen know what he or she is doing wrong as well as doing right. There are plenty of things to get wrong when you first get behind the wheel. These include accelerating downhill, braking too hard or accelerating too quickly after the light turns red. It’s also a fine time to teach them how to use their mirrors and to teach them about the blind spot to the rear on both sides of the car.
- Don’t Lose Your Temper: You can feel free to scream or shout or tear your hair out as soon as you get home, but when you are behind the wheel, it is very important that you keep your cool. Your teen driver is probably nervous enough as it is, and having you raise your voice or pound on the dashboard won’t do much to calm his or her nerves.
- Meet the Friends: Are your teen driver’s friends the sorts that drink? That use drugs? Do they act recklessly? You should find out. It isn’t hard to remember how there was a big difference between the way you acted around your friends and the way you acted around your parents. If you think your teenager will drink or behave recklessly while he or she is behind the wheel of the car, don’t let them have the keys.
- Make Yourself Available: Make it clear to your children that you don’t want them to ever get behind the wheel of a car if they have been drinking, nor do you want them to get in a car with another driver that is similarly intoxicated. While you shouldn’t let them drink, telling them that you will pick them up with no questions asked if they have been drinking is a smart way to keep them from getting behind the wheel.
- Have Them Share or Pay Insurance Costs: One practical way to have your teenager understand the many benefits of safe driving is to either have them pay for the insurance altogether or to have them share the costs with you. Once they see firsthand how the insurance costs go up due to speeding tickets and fender benders and go down with continued safe driving, they will be more inclined to make a habit of safe driving.