Obtaining a driver’s license is a rite of passage for youngsters, one of the first major life privileges available to teenagers. Teens, however, are considered high-risk drivers with insurance companies charging correspondingly higher rates to reflect that elevated risk.
Safe Driving Tips
Teens and their parents should have a discussion about safe driving practices including the following four tips to help improve their behind-the-wheel skills.
1. Set an Example For Your Teen
You may be entirely comfortable behind the wheel of a car, but your teen likely is not. In fact, he or she may be terrified and part of that terror may have something to do with the way that you drive.Be honest with yourself: if you do not wear your seat belt, have a lead foot and are prone to racing other drivers, these are habits that your teen might pick up. Consider how your driving habits might impact your teen and set the example by always driving responsibly yourself.
2. Supply Extra Behind-the-Wheel Time
Most states require novice drivers to first pass a preliminary test and obtain a permit before they will issue teens a driver’s license. With a permit, teens may only drive a car with a licensed adult present, an individual that can help the youngster learn the rules of the road and hone his or her driving skills.
The more time a parent or other licensed adult spends time with a teen behind the wheel, the more comfortable and confident that new driver will become. You can take this one step further by enrolling your child in a student driving course. Some high schools offer them, while private driving schools are also available. A professional instructor can go over the many nuances of responsible driving including road manners, how to respond in a skid, and other safety factors.
3. Consider Graduated Driving: Mandated or Not
Some states have incorporated graduated driving programs that allow for progressively more privileges as drivers gain experience. In Michigan, for instance, the state requires teens to pass through two segments of driver education instructions and three licensing levels before they are permitted to drive on their own without restriction. Students must maintain a clean driving record and obtain parental approval to advance to a full license. Once the teen turns 18, the graduated driver’s license (GDL) program ends, with full driving rights granted.
Even if your state does not have a GDL program, you can implement one of your own. Talk with your teen about his or her driving privileges and what it takes to gain additional privileges. Avoid your child’s pressure to give him something before he is ready: it may be his life or the life of another person that you save.
4. Remember: Distracted Driving Kills
There is no easy way to say this, but your youngster faces an increased likelihood of serious injury or even death if he or she is distracted while driving. Distracted driving takes the lives of more than 3,300 Americans each year according to the NHTSA. These distractions include texting while driving, personal grooming, eating, watching a video, adjusting the audio system and using the navigation system.
Many states have put laws on the books to restrict or forbid teen use of cell phones while driving. The NHTSA has found that 21 percent of drivers aged 15 to 19 involved in fatal crashes were distracted by the use of cell phones. Regardless of the laws where you live, talk with your teen about distracted driving and insist that they practice the same safe driving habits that you carefully uphold.
The Privilege of Driving
Driving is a privilege and not a right, something that may be lost on many Americans. Your teen should understand the gravity of controlling two tons of machinery and the consequences that poor driving habits can have on himself and others.
See Also — Tips for Teens Buying a First Car