We’ve all heard the saying “it takes two” and when it comes to teaching your teen good driving habits, it couldn’t be truer. Take yourself back a bit if you will and try to remember the first time your parents handed you the car keys. The excitement was nearly uncontainable and the freedom you felt was like nothing you had ever experienced up until that point in your teenage life. National Teen Driver Safety Week starts October 20th and carries on through the 26th. This year, the NTDSW theme is “It Takes Two: Shared Expectations for Teens and Parents for Driving.” Hold on tight with these tips to help you and your teen overcome the (sometimes stressful) training that it takes to become a great driver!
Set the bar high. Lead by example by following the rules of the road. Don’t talk or text on your cell phone and always wear your seatbelt.
Practice makes perfect. Well…maybe that’s a stretch, but the more practice your teen has at driving, the more likely they are to make good judgments and begin developing habits that will keep them safe behind the wheel. Start by driving during the daytime and slowly graduate into driving at night. Keep track of your training hours by downloading a driving log at http://www.teendriversource.org/index.php/tools/for_parents/detail/42 or by using a phone app like www.timetodriveapp.com.
Reward responsible behavior. Reinforce responsible behavior by rewarding your teen with greater privileges that will allow them to become more independent.
Set boundaries and expectations. Communicate with your teen and be clear on what you expect from them. Be firm, but also provide an explanation in regards to the do’s and don’ts of driving and help them better understand that it’s not about control, but safety.
Be reliable. Showing your teen that you are available for their support anytime and anyplace is essential. Peer pressure can take on many shapes and forms. Make certain that your teen knows they can count on you by creating a code word they can use if they are in an unsafe situation. If they call or text you, pick them up immediately, no questions asked.
Know the facts. You’re young, but you are NOT invincible. Teenagers (16-19) are three times more likely to be involved in a fatal accident than all other age groups. In fact, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens. Educate yourself and know what situations (not all are obvious) can put you at risk.
Be involved. Groups like Students Against Destructive Driving (SADD) and Project Ignition provide education and tools that promote good decision making skills when it comes to driving. Let your voice be heard and make a difference in your community!
Listen well and don’t resist. Although it seems as though parents just don’t understand, they do. Believe it or not, your parent was 16 once and behind the wheel for the first time too. Sure times have changed, but not too much is different in respect to being a teenage driver. Listen to your parents and be attentive to the direction they are giving you. They aren’t telling you what or how to do something to be mean or controlling. They want you to make the right choices so that you come home safe and sound.
Don’t be afraid to call your parents. You may think that your parents will be angry with you if you call them in the middle of the night asking for a ride home. Trust me, your parents want you to be safe and if it means coming to pick you up, no matter what the situation or what time it is, don’t be afraid to make that call. It may save a life, even your own!
Whether you are the parent or the teen, it takes two to make safe driving a success. Be smart, be responsible, and above all be calm when you get behind the wheel!