Teenagers will pick up their driving habits from various people, but their parents will likely be the biggest influence on their road conduct. Sure, teens will get a lot of behind-the-wheel training in their Driver’s Education courses, but most of their car time is spent with their parents or guardians. And during that time, teens will observe, and possibly emulate, what their parents are doing behind the wheel.
If you’re the parent of a teenage driver, make sure the driving behaviors they are observing will keep them safe when they are behind the wheel solo. Check out these five tips to help ensure your teen is only inheriting good driving habits from you.
Set A Good Example
Think of everything you want your teen driver doing or not doing when they are driving. Apply those things to your own driving habits—especially when you are driving with your teen. Some of these behaviors would include wearing your seat belt, not engaging in distracting behavior like using your phone or eating, obeying the speed limit and traffic signs, remaining calm and not driving when you are tired.
Re-familiarize Yourself With The Rules Of The Road
How many of the traffic safety lessons do you recall from your time in Driver’s Ed.? If it’s been awhile, it might be a good idea to refresh your memory on the different traffic laws that you memorized to pass your driver’s license exam. If your teen sees you taking Driver’s Ed. seriously, they are likely to as well. You should also learn about your state’s graduated driver licensing (GDL) laws. These laws can supplement any ground rules you’ve already set for your teen in regards to passengers, nighttime driving and cell phone use.
Take Time To Drive With Your Teen
As previously mentioned, if your teen sees you taking the written part of Driver’s Ed. seriously, they will, too. The same goes for the behind-the-wheel training. Many states require teens to have between 40 to 50 hours of supervised driving practice before they’re eligible for their intermediate license. Make sure you and your teen put in these hours in different situations—various road types, different times of day, traffic and weather conditions. This will help prepare your teen for many common situations when they are driving on their own.
Talk To Your Teen About The Dangers Of Drinking And Driving
Ensuring your teen driver is inheriting good driving habits does not just include observing your behavior in the car. You can also instill good habits from having conversations about always buckling up, staying off of their phone and of course never drinking and driving.
Teens in families that had an established rule against drinking and riving were 10 times less likely to do so than teens from families with no such rule, according to a 2016 Safe Kids Worldwide and General Motors Foundation Study. The “No drinking and driving rule” is further reinforced with teens if they observe their parents avoiding the practice themselves. The same study revealed that teens who saw their parent drink and drive were three times more likely to do the same than teens whose parents played it safe.
Establish A Written Driving Safety Agreement With Your Teen
You can show and tell your teen driver how to develop good driving habits, but putting something in writing can really drive home how important road safety is. Having a Parent-Teen Driving Contract will help you and your young driver focus on safe driving habits. Sit down and discuss these recommendations—and the consequences if they are not followed. It’s not about punishment, but ensuring your teen understands what a big responsibility driving safely is.
By Joe Dyton