What’s one of the scariest things on the road? A deer? A speeding crotch rocket weaving in and out of lanes? Rush hour traffic? A deer on the road being chased by a crotch rocket during rush hour traffic? All of those things are scary, but there’s nothing quite as scary as a new teen driver.
Their nerves, your nerves, the loud music, car dancing, cellphones, navigating directions, parking, parallel parking, and just plain inexperience. But regardless of how unnerving new drivers might be, driving is just another life skill one needs for the rest of their life. In fact, learning how to drive and learning how to drive well is one of the most important life skills one learns, not only is it something a person will likely do for life, but not doing it well could have dire consequences.
So what do you do if you are a new teen driver? What do you do if you have a new teen driver? We’re here to help.
- Set a Good Example - Kids pick up a lot of their parents’ behavior, including driving habits. If a parent practices bad or good behavior behind the wheel, it is likely their child will mimic those behaviors, too.
- Let Them Practice - Once a child has their permit, they need plenty of time to practice with a parent in the car before they begin driving on their own. If they don’t know all of the rules before they start driving on their own, they might make up the rules as they go and develop bad habits.
- Clear Instruction - When a child is practicing driving, it is important for a parent or teacher to be supportive, kind, instructional and composed. Though driving is scary and a teen might make some scary mistakes, screaming is not the way to teach someone what they did wrong. Constructive and clear feedback is best.
- Explanation -- Provide some explanation for why, when and how to do certain things. Driving is routine to adults so they don’t always think about why they do or don’t do certain things, so they do not necessarily to remember to say why something should be done. Explaining rules and reasons for them will help a new driver remember the rules and also learn new ones.
- Check Ups - Once a new teen starts driving, it is a good idea for a parent to frequently ride with the teen driving. It’s very easy for new drivers to pick up bad habits or become careless, so it’s always a good idea for a parent to check up on them.
- Don’t Forget - Driving is a privilege and that privilege can be revoked by law enforcement or parents at any time.
- Keep your eyes on the road. Keep your eyes on the road. Keep your eyes on the road. Seriously, keep your eyes on the road. Of course, don’t look at your cellphone, but there are also a million other things that are distracting, too. Don’t take your eyes off the road to change the radio or volume, don’t take your eyes off the road to fix your hair or wave to a friend. When your car is in motion, keep your eyes on the road.
- Respect Your Friends - If you have friends in the car, don’t let them distract you or don’t show off. Or, if you are a passenger in a car, don’t be a nuisance or distraction and if they need help, help them.
- Stay Calm - Over the course of your driving life, a million people will curse at you, flick you off, give you dirty looks, speed off or maybe even throw things at you, and that’s ok. Don’t fight back or get emotional. That will just make your driving worse.
- Driver’s Ed -- Driver’s ed is still one of the best ways for a child to learn how to drive and to learn how to drive smart. Not only does the course help a teen pass their driver’s license test, but many insurance companies offer discounts to teen drivers who have taken driver’s ed.
- Built-In Teen Driver Systems- Manufacturers are introducing new tech systems that actually let a parents monitor their teen’s driving actions and even set controls. One example is Chevy’s Teen Driver System. Parents can program a key fob to limit speeds, volume, and it can even prevent the car from going when a passenger doesn’t have a seat belt on. Additionally, the system records the car’s route and number of times warnings were activated.