- Make Sure Your Teen Hears You
The best advice in the world means nothing if your teenager does not listen to you – so it’s important to pick the right time, place and setting. First, pick a time and place where you can naturally ease into the conversation about driving – your teen will likely be excited about driving, but you want them to remain calm and collected during the conversation, so try to bring it up naturally. Next, be sure to ask your teen questions, such as: What do you think about how that car just swerved around three lanes of traffic? This can be a good opportunity to provide practical, wise advice about how a person should or should not drive. Lastly, there is no better way to make sure your teen hears you than to lead by example! Show your teen what good driving habits look like, and they will be sure to emulate!
- Provide Good Driving Advice
Most importantly – keep safety as the ultimate priority!! Let your teen know that you are not trying to stop him or her from having any fun – you just want to keep them as safe as possible. Teach your teen the basics of safe driving – driving at the speed limit, using turn signals, avoiding drivers who appear drunk or otherwise erratic, following the “two-second rule” when driving, looking at an intersection before immediately going on a green light, etc.
Also, let your teen know that it is 100 percent okay not to pick up or reply to any message or phone call while he or she is driving – this is a major cause of traffic accidents in America, a rate that is even higher for inexperienced drivers. And, it should go without saying, NEVER drink and drive – ALL states have a “zero-tolerance” policy for drivers under the age of 21. This means that if any alcohol is found in a teenager driver’s system, it is an automatically Driving Under the Influence (DUI) – often resulting in the suspension of a person’s license for at least a year.
- Pick the Right Vehicle
It goes without saying that certain vehicles are safer than others.
In general, its best to avoid cars:
- With high horsepower – which can encourage teens to “try out” the limits of their new vehicle.
- Small SUVs which have notoriously high rollover rates
- Older cars – which are not only less reliable, but also lack many modern safety features (such as adaptive cruise control, lane assist, or emergency braking)
In general, it is best to choose cars that have:
- Electronic Stability Control – which helps keep the car inside its lane during wet or icy conditions.
- High Safety Ratings, which will keep your teen protected in the unfortunate event of an accident
- Safety Packages – these can include state-of-the-art safety features that automatically stop the vehicle to prevent a collision, ensure a safe following distance when using cruise control, or utilize rear back-up cameras to improve visibility
Giving a rookie teenager the keys to a car can be a perilous experience for a parent, but following these tips can help prevent accidents and teach your teen to be a safer, and more cautious driver.