Safe driving practices develop over time and with consistent effort. Helping your teenager understand the importance of vigilance and responsibility behind the wheel might feel overwhelming.
With your guidance, and more importantly, your example, you can facilitate a positive learning experience. Applying safety at the start of your teen’s driving experience can set the foundation for the future.
Driver education programs encompass a wealth of information that your teenager will have to process fairly quickly. Bearing this in mind, have regular conversations about course concepts. Ask your teenager if anything new stuck out during a recent class. When practicing driving, use the time as an opportunity to provide a real-time application of the concepts taught in the classroom.
Perhaps the greatest form of education is your example. Even before your teenager reaches driving age, you should demonstrate responsible driving habits. Follow the posted speed limit. Avoid distractions. Respond courteously to other motorists. Keep your vehicle maintained. Modify your driving style to account for inclement weather or road hazards. Teach your children the value of passenger safety and respect. These concepts can help mold a responsible driver long before your child receives a driver’s license.
Your teenager probably feels a lot of excitement in anticipation of receiving a license. While you can share in this enthusiasm, as a parent, you also need to set ground rules. According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, your teen’s crash risks increase with each additional passenger. Consider implementing a driving contract where you can disclose your expectations for your child. You can outline topics including the following:
- The number of passengers you will allow
- A curfew that prohibits driving past a certain time of day
- Instructions for cellphone storage while driving
- Consequences for non-compliant behavior
Discussing privileges and consequences may increase the incentive to drive responsibly. When you notice positive behavior, commend your teen and encourage the continuation of such actions. If your child does suffer an injury in a car accident, use the incident as an opportunity to re-address the importance of responsible driving.