When you’re a teenager, passing your driver’s test signals the first step toward adulthood. It means a new sense of freedom, one that doesn’t rely on a bicycle – or rides from others – to get from place to place.
However, from a parents’ perspective, this exciting time for your teen can be stressful on yourself since motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among 16-19-year-olds, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
But teen driving accidents are preventable. If you practice safe habits behind the wheel and educate your child on the risks associated with operating a car or truck, you can help protect him or her from becoming another statistic.
Be a Safe Driver Yourself
This tip may seem obvious, but it’s important to emphasize, nonetheless. Like the adage “Practice what you preach,” you must be a cautious driver yourself if you want your teen to follow suit since he or she is likely to mimic your behavior.
For example, if you regularly speed, don’t wear a seatbelt or text and drive, your teen might perceive this as acceptable simply because it’s what he or she regularly sees.
Therefore, to fully promote safety behind the wheel, set a proper example as early as possible, continually follow it and educate your teen on the dangers of reckless driving.
While most states have laws in place intended to keep inexperienced drivers safe, you – as a parent – should fill-in the gaps by coming up with realistic goals, expectations and consequences. You’ve probably rewarded your child for good behavior growing up, or at least punished him or her for acting out, so why not take the same approach with driving?
If your teen doesn’t get pulled over or written up for a parking ticket, give him or her a reward, such as gas money. On the contrary, if you discover that he or she speeds or texts while driving, you could limit his or her car time.
However, it’s important to note that whatever guidelines you devise must be set before your teenager passes the learner’s permit test. That way he or she knows that the rules are pre-established, thus potentially limiting future arguments.
Practice Makes Perfect
The most common reason teen drivers are likely to be involved in a car accident within the first six months of having their license is because of a lack of experience. When you haven’t logged a lot of hours behind the wheel, you may not know how to react in certain situations.
An easy way to combat this, though, is to periodically re-evaluate your teen’s skills by having him or her drive you to the city, on the highway or through changing weather conditions. Just because he or she has a license doesn’t necessarily negate the need for practice.
But when you do have him or her drive you, don’t be overly critical of every move. Instead, simply give constructive and positive feedback whenever warranted.
Still Not Confident in Your Teen’s Ability?
If you still don’t feel comfortable having your child hit the road, consider having him or her attend a class tailored to fit the needs of new and inexperienced drivers.
Andy’s Auto Service in Bridgeville holds hands-on, interactive workshops aimed at keeping new and soon-to-be drivers safe and responsible behind the wheel by educating them on standard vehicle maintenance and proper police interaction.
These events are designed to give you – and your child – the peace of mind that he or she will be safe each time you hand over the keys.
For more information on the workshops, or to ensure that that mechanical components of your teen’s vehicle are working properly, call 412-478-9304, or visit the website.