The teenage years bring on a whole new set of worries for parents. In addition to growing bodies (and appetites) and a more active social life, teenagers also begin testing the waters with one of the most daunting tasks we perform- driving a car. As with many other discussions that you have with your teenagers, having a discussion about driving safely can be tough, but it doesn’t have to be as long as you know how to approach the subject.
Provide Information: The National Highway and Traffic Safety Information and the Centers for Disease Control websites, as well as your state issued driver’s handbooks are valuable sources of information about how to drive safely, as well as information about the risks of driving under the influence, while using cell phones and other dangerous behavior. Learn this information and pass it on to your teen when you talk to them about driving safety.
Lead by Example: You are your children’s first example of how to behave in the world, and if they see you being a reckless driver, then they may adopt similar behavior. Drive safely while your teens are in the car, and open up a dialogue about what you’re doing when you’re driving and why you’re doing it.
Talk with Confidence: Know and understand that you are and can be a positive influence on your teen and that you can guide their behavior when they’re driving.
Set Expectations: As you talk to your teen, talk to them in a clear and calm voice, Explain that you will have expectations for them while driving, and that there are consequences to driving recklessly. You can even present these expectations in a parent-teen driving contract.
Check In with Your Teen: Be an active part of your teen’s learning experience. Provide them with positive feedback and check in on them even after they’ve obtained their license. Continue having talks with them about driving safely. Learning how to drive takes time, experience, patience, judgment and skill. An optional measure to take is to install a monitoring device which provides data on driving behaviors that may need improving.
With time, your teen will become a safe and effective driver, which benefits them (and you) on insurance rates and while you will always be concerned when your children go out into the world, if you instill safe driving practices into them, you will be more confident in their abilities when they get behind the wheel.