Teen drivers tend to be among the least safe demographic on the roads because of their inexperience and other factors that commonly lead to accidents, like texting while driving and general distracted driving.
Fewer teens are getting their licenses now than in the past, and some of that may be due to the fear of being on roadways.
It’s important for teens who are able to do so to get their license because it fosters independence, but it’s just as important that they understand the responsibility of being behind the wheel.
The following are some of the ways to help a teen become a better, more mindful, and responsible driver.
Go Over Common Accident Scenarios
One way to help your teen build their driving skills and also be more cognizant of the risks of being behind the wheel is to go over the scenarios that most frequently lead to accidents.
Not all driving situations carry the same level of risk when compared to one another, so help your teen know when they should be especially mindful.
For example, T-bone accidents are one of the most common and dangerous types of car accidents.
A T-bone accident can occur when a vehicle fails to yield when coming through an intersection.
Drunk driving accidents are, unfortunately, another all-too-common situation. Drunk driving accidents lead to more serious injuries than accidents involving only sober drivers.
Your teen should understand not just the importance of staying behind the wheel but also avoid the roads during times when people are more likely to be intoxicated, such as late nights and on holidays.
Another common scenario is left-turn accidents when one vehicle doesn’t use a turn signal and then tries to move across traffic too quickly.
Make Sure Your Teen Is Truly Ready to Drive
Teens are less likely to get their driver’s licenses now than in the past, and there are different reasons for that, including the availability of rideshare services and digital connections to their friends.
While getting their license is an important milestone, as a parent, you want to make sure your teen really is developmentally ready to drive.
It’s okay to wait a little while for a teen to get their license if they’re just not mature enough or lack the sense of responsibility required to be behind the wheel.
Lead by Example
As a parent, one of the most important things we can do in almost every situation is lead by example. You may not realize it, but your teen is always watching you.
It may not even be obvious to your teen that they’re doing it, but they are, in fact learning from the example you set.
If you say one thing and do another as far as driving safety and responsibility, they’re going to pick up on that.
When you’re behind the wheel, make sure you buckle up right away. Put your phone down and slow down.
Be Aware When Your Child Is Driving
When your child has his or her license and plans to head out the door, you should make sure you’re managing the details of that trip. That means that your teen tells you their destination when they’ll be home and whether or not someone else is going to be with them.
You should make sure they seem rested and alert because fatigue behind the wheel can be as dangerous as driving while under the influence of mind-altering substances.
One of the riskiest things you can let your teen do when it comes to driving is allow them to head out with no destination in mind. New drivers should only drive when they have somewhere to go. Joyriding is never a good idea.
You can work out a contract or agreement with your teen that they should follow when they get their license as well.
Initially, regardless of the graduated license guidelines where you live, you should only allow your teen to drive during the daytime. Around half of all deadly accidents involving teens occur at night.
Don’t let your teen drive on highways without supervision for a set period of time, and you really need to require that your teen only drive solo for a while.
Keep Your Emotions in Check
Teens are known for big emotions, but you may be adding to those with your strong responses. When you’re teaching your child how to drive, make sure that you’re not yelling or letting your emotions get the best of you.
Stay calm, and that will help your teen do the same.
Reward Your Teen for Good Driving Habits
If your teen is working hard to be a responsible driver, make sure that you recognize it and letting them know their efforts aren’t unnoticed.
For example, one way to reward your teen for good and safe driving habits is to gradually lift the restrictions you might have put on them.
On the other hand, if you find out your teen is engaging in driving activity that isn’t responsible, maybe you suspend their driving privileges or roll some of them back.
Keep Driving with Your Teen After They Get Their License
Learning to drive takes well takes time. Even after your teen gets their license, you should still accompany them on the roadways when you can. You can gauge where they’re doing well and where they might need work.
You should continue having regular practice sessions.
When you’re doing this, focus on a lot of wide-ranging skills and environments. For example, teach them to have situational awareness and practice scanning for hazards as part of developing defensive driving skills.
You want your teen to start to develop an intuitive understanding of how to be a good driver, which can only happen over time and with different experiences. The more experiences you can provide your teen behind the wheel while remaining in a controlled environment, the better.
Be gradual with how much freedom you let your teen have when it comes to driving, and look at it as a continual process for them to develop mindfulness and a range of driving skills.