If your teen has already started to drive, have you been quite uneasy about the transition? While most teens may be eager to go behind the wheel, many parents are naturally concerned regarding their teen’s safety. In the United States, motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death among teenagers.
Teens are at risk for vehicular accidents because they are less likely to recognize dangerous situations. To add to that, teens are also prone to engage in risky driving behaviors, like driving under the influence of alcohol, or over speeding. And with the increased risk for accidents, teens also have the lowest rate of seat belt use as compared to other age groups.
While graduated driver’s licensing (GDL) systems allow teens to have their firsthand experience with driving under low-risk conditions, parents can still do so much in terms of enforcing safe practices behind the wheel. Your teen still has so much to learn when it comes to developing defensive driving skills. And parents should take each day, as an opportunity to teach a child how to stay safe while on the road.
Let your teen know that regardless of all the things he needs to consider while driving, it is crucial that he stays focused. Multitasking is never safe while driving. Let your teen know that he should never entertain distractions like answering the phone, or even eating while driving. These distractions can greatly affect the way he reacts to possible problems while on the road.
It is also essential that your teen is aware that there are instances, when he needs to stay away from the wheel. Driving under the influence is a known cause of accidents, and your teen should clearly understand why he should never drink and drive. Even tiredness can affect one’s judgment, and it can also delay how one reacts to certain situations. Thus, your teen should never attempt to drive, when he feels that his senses are not working properly.
Parents should also be responsible role models, since they can greatly influence their teen’s behavior behind the wheel. You may help your teen get more driving experience by making time for supervised driving sessions. Your time with your teen can enhance learning, as well as strengthen proper driving skills. It may also be another opportunity for you to remind your teen to always wear his seatbelt, and to keep his safety a top priority.
During this stage when a teen seeks independence, parents should all the more try to get involved with their child’s life. According to studies, the presence of teen passengers increases the accident risk among teen drivers with no supervision. Get to know the persons who keep your child company, and make sure that you also monitor his activities.
More importantly, parents should also have a driving agreement with their teen. This should be written down, and it has to include rules, limits, conditions that will serve as guidelines for his newfound independence. It is also necessary that you impose consequences every time your teen breaks a rule. This can help enforce responsible driving in your teen.
There will certainly be risks involved each time a child learns new skills. However, this is a critical stage, when parents need to teach teens how to become responsible drivers. As time passes, your teen will definitely get more experience on the road, but what is important is that he is taught the right skills, essential in developing responsible driving behavior that can last through life.