As a teenager, turning sweet 16 is an exciting time because you are finally able to drive solo on the wide open roads, but as a parent, it is a scary time because you are entrusting your child with a newfound independence. As exciting and scary as this time is for both you and your teenager, you should take the time to teach your new driver proper driving habits and continually review them. Be prepared for your teenager to roll his eyes at you when you remind them of safe practices, but enduring a little bit of sass is well worth it to teach your child safe driving practices. By educating your teenager on smart driving habits, you are helping to ensure the safety of your own child and each person you child will ever transport.
Seatbelts are a necessity.
When you leave the hospital with your precious newborn, one of the first actions you take is to buckle your baby in the car seat, and no matter what age you are, seatbelts play a monumental role in safety. Teenagers are notorious for believing they are too cool to wear seatbelts, and as parents, it is our job to instill a seatbelt’s value in our children beginning at a young age. Even if you classify yourself as a safe driver, you have absolutely no control over the motorists around you, and wearing a seatbelt can save your life. Wearing your seatbelt dramatically decreases your risk of injury by up to 60%, and while a seatbelt does not completely eliminate the chance of injury, it does increase the chance of being ejected from the vehicle or receiving life-threatening injuries.
Everyone has days when you are running late and speeding seems like the only option, but speeding is never the right choice. Even though you think speeding will not impact your driving, it actually decreases the amount of time you have to stop and your control over the vehicle. When you speed, you endanger your life and also the lives of everyone driving around you. Speeding accounts for 1/3 of all traffic fatalities each year, and teenagers are 7% more likely to have a speed-related crash. Speeding can result in a traffic ticket which will cost you money and impact your driving record for life. You should take time to teach your child about the risks associated with speeding and remind your child that even if other motorists are speeding, it does not make it acceptable.
Always be prepared.
As parents, we are fully aware (and have probably learned the hard way) that you never know what the day holds and should always be prepared. Stock up on basic items and keep them in the vehicle your teen will be driving. Smart ideas of what to include in the emergency supplies are a first aid kit (bandages, aspirin, cloth tape, gauze, and antibiotic ointment), paper towels, jumper cables, a flashlight with working batteries, a blanket, and a few snacks (granola bars, crackers, bottles of water). Even though we cannot drive our children all the time, we can always make sure they are prepared.
Rearview and side mirrors should be used.
As the driver, it is your responsibility to check the roadway for other motorists before changing lanes or turning onto another street. Using your side and rearview mirrors allow you to see other drivers, but you should be aware of your blind spots. Blind spots occur when a vehicle is out of your mirrors’ range which means that you will not be able to see the other vehicle. When changing lanes or turning, you should encourage your teenager to use a blinker to ensure your vehicle’s visibility and intention to other motorists.
Texting and driving is not safe.
In today’s society, we consider ourselves experts at multi-tasking, but multi-tasking should never happen behind the wheel of a vehicle. Whether it is texting, eating, drinking, or even fixing your hair, every second you are performing an additional task means another second when your eyes are off of the road. We need to teach our children that driving should be our main priority when we are the driver by putting down the distraction and focusing on the roadway. Even sending a simple one word text message significantly reduces the amount of control you have on your vehicle. If a text message or phone call is truly important, encourage your young driver to pull over in a nearby area, such as a parking lot, to handle the conversation.
As parents, we cannot control everything our children do, but we can make sure they are well-informed on appropriate actions to take and have the items they need for safety purposes. Additionally, proper education includes teaching our children by our own example. Our children learn habits from our actions, and as parents, we need to teach our children safe, smart driving practices by first implementing them on our own driving. If our teenagers frequently see us texting behind the wheel or speeding, they will be more inclined to participate in these practices, and as parents, we have to practice what we preach in order to positively influence our teenager’s driving. By educating our teenagers on driving safety and making certain they have the proper supplies, we are doing our parental job in teaching and protecting them.