Kids watch. It’s what they do to learn how to understand and navigate the world around them. In particular, they see your every action and reaction behind the wheel. Those eyes watch as you navigate the highway, the car loop at school, and even the grocery store parking lot. And for better or worse, teens absorb what they see to eventually shape their own driving styles and attitudes.
As a parent, I know I’m the first example my teenager gets when it comes to driving habits. At the same time, I know how frustrating being on the road is sometimes. The time and energy it takes to navigate traffic can bring out some of the worst behaviors in any driver. Unfortunately, some actions that seem relatively harmless, like taking a quick phone call, can easily lead to accidents. That’s why it’s vital to show your kids proper driving habits early on. With this in mind, check out these simple tips to set your future teen driver on the right path.
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Practice Safe Driving Techniques
This might seem like a basic and intuitive suggestion. However, many drivers fail to follow proper driving practices that are meant to keep the road safe. It’s all too easy to justify speeding or not wearing a seat belt when you are in a hurry, but those actions can have serious consequences. Other unsafe practices that you should avoid include:
- Driving while drowsy
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Failing to use your turn signals
- Ignoring stop or yield signs
In order to prepare your teen to become a driver, you must instill the right attitudes and practices. The only way to do this effectively is to lead by example. If your teen sees you break the rules, they are more likely to make similar choices and face trouble as a result. It’s helpful to keep this in mind even when you are driving alone, so you can become a safer driver too.
This is one of the hardest habits for many drivers to break. According to several studies, distracted driving is one of the leading causes of accidents. Distracted driving comes in many different forms, but they all have one detail in common: they take your mind off the road and your surroundings. These are a few of the most common driving distractions:
- Using a cellphone
- Getting lost in thought
- Reaching into a bag or the backseat
- Adjusting the GPS
Even while stopped at a light, it’s important to stay undistracted. Not only do you need to prepare for the light to change, but you also need to remain aware of your surroundings at all times. The best way to instill this in your teens is to limit distractions for yourself any time you get into the driver’s seat.
Keep Calm and Drive On
This is another difficult but important safe driving practice to teach young drivers. As much as you try to avoid it, you will eventually run into trouble on the road. Another driver may cut you off, tailgate your car, or otherwise trigger your road rage nerve. However, just because the drivers around you are not making safe choices doesn’t mean you need to resort to bad habits too. Instead, you can use these moments to teach your teens what not to do while on the road. Learning to remain calm in stressful driving situations will help you and your teens stay clear-minded to avoid accidents.
Before they ever get behind the wheel, your teens need to know how to prepare for the worst. At some point, they will encounter situations like having a flat tire or a dead battery. To help them prepare, inform your teens of these possibilities, and offer solutions. For example, you can teach them how to change a tire, or show them how to contact help during an emergency situation. It’s also a good idea to have an emergency kit handy in the car with everything you or your teens might need while driving. In it you can include items like:
- Jumper cables
- First aid supplies
- A flashlight
- A small toolkit
- Reflective triangles
Along with an emergency kit, purchasing auto insurance coverage is one of the easiest ways to protect your young drivers. Make sure to explain what car insurance is, how it works and why it’s so important. Outlining this information will help your teens understand how their driving choices affect the drivers around them. Once they understand the possible ramifications of unsafe driving, they are more likely to make better decisions behind the wheel.
Explain How to Handle an Accident
Unfortunately, accidents do happen. While it can be a tricky subject, it’s important to have a conversation with your teens about handling an accident. No matter who is at fault, make sure to explain what steps to take in the aftermath. For example, all drivers involved must remain at the scene until the police and ambulance arrive. Aside from that, make sure to walk your teens through the following steps in the event of an accident:
- Make sure you and your passengers are safe
- Check on the driver in the other vehicle
- Collect the information of the drivers involved, if possible
- Call emergency services and wait for them to arrive
- Submit an accident report to the insurance company