Teenage drivers, due to lack of experience and distraction, cause a lot of car accidents. To help them avoid this, it's up to parents to set a good example and show them how to drive safely. Road tests and official training can only go so far. Parents have far more access to their teens and they can work on these skills every single day, giving their children an edge when it comes to driving safety.
Here are a few things parents should do:
- Spend a lot of time riding with the teen while you're in the passenger seat. Even simple trips, like a run to the grocery store, can be a learning experience.
- Use small trips to help teens gain confidence and experience. Don't make them drive on a 100-mile road trip right away, but have them drive consistently within a five-mile radius around the house.
- Do not get angry at the teen when they make mistakes. Remember that they don't have experience. Your goal is to ride with them, observe the mistakes and calmly help correct them so that the teen doesn't make that same mistake when alone behind the wheel.
- Make rules and set up consequences. The teen needs to know the ramifications of doing things like driving while distracted or breaking the speed limit.
- Do not break driving laws yourself. Kids watch their parents. If you text and drive, so will your teen, even if you tell them not to.
- Put safety ahead of legality when you drive. If the light turns yellow, for instance, you may think you can speed up and make it through without running the red. But that teaches your teen passenger to take risks. Instead, slow down and stop, showing them that safety matters more.
- Don't act like any driving laws are "minor" or that there are mistakes it's all right to make. For instance, many people break the speed limit all the time and act like it's not a big deal. Doing that with a young, impressionable teen driver shows them that it's all right to break the law. You don't want them to think that, or they could extend it to more dangerous activities.
- Talk to teens about safety. Just having the talk shows them that you value it and think it's important. Teens do want to please their parents. Show them how they can do it and stay safe.
Keeping your own teen safe is one thing, but the reality is that teens still do cause accidents. If another driver injures you, make sure you understand what legal rights you have to financial compensation.