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Parenting Teens: Tips to Teach Them Safe Driving Habits They Will Remember

Not many things can produce more anxiety than being parents of teenagers who are just getting their driver’s licenses. The fear of the uncontrollable variable of the other drivers out there is made worse in not knowing if the teens will comply with safe driving habit 100 percent of the time. Habits are fundamentally a repetition of known skills, whether those skills are good or bad. Establishing practical and safe driving skills early on goes a long way toward having teen drivers who maintain safe driving habits.

Parents Are Trendsetters for Teen Driving Habits

Regardless of whether or not the driving habits of parents are safe or not, they are the ones their teenagers have been learning from ever since they were babies in car seats. If Mom and Dad regularly obey traffic laws and practice safe driving skills, then that works as a positive reinforcement of what is proper for the child to do. Human beings learn a lot by observation and mimicry. The bad side of this is if parents regularly disobey traffic laws, are aggressive drivers or practice other unsafe driving habits, it is likely their driver’s license eligible teens will think those driving habits are normal and acceptable.

Professional Driving Courses

The world is not a safe place. Parents know this and want to protect their children. According to data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety-Highway Loss Data Institute, there were 32,719 people killed in motor vehicle crashes in the United States in 2013. Driving is a professional skill practiced almost entirely by amateurs. Teenagers can be taught professional driving skills that include both defensive and offensive tactics and when to use them.

A defensive tactic would be a skill such as emergency braking or controlling emotions when dealing with an aggressive driver. An offensive driving safety skill might be learning how to escape another driver attempting to commit lethal road rage. These professional skill sets go way beyond driver’s-ed courses, but they are like the martial arts of surviving on today’s roadways.

Driving Safety Teachable Moments

Situations develop on practically every outing in a motor vehicle that can be used as opportunities to teach a correct response. Parents of young drivers should openly discuss driving safety events that occur. An example might be a car suddenly pulling out from a side street that required a little extra brake pedal pressure to avoid an accident. Addressing accident prevention and procedure immediately after an accident should be priority for any parent.

Discussing how always scanning left and right to look for things such as cars, children and pets is a good idea. Even apologizing for an inappropriate reaction to an event and explaining the proper response is better than nothing. Asking teens questions about what is appropriate for developing driving situations while traveling together helps teach them. Also, consider asking about everything from what to do when one sees yellow traffic lights to what lines on the road indicate it is okay to pass begin to ingrain the knowledge needed to be safer drivers. Teens are often learning about these rules so they should be able to answer those questions easily.

Turning a teen into a safe driver does not happen overnight. It does not happen between the time they get the manual to obtain a driver’s permit and their first trip behind the wheel either. It begins when they are passengers watching what Mom and Dad do for each day’s commute to school, soccer practice, dinner out and routine trips to the store. The earlier parents begin to establish safe driving habits by example and discussion of things that happen while driving each day, the better equipped the teen will be when they get their license to be the operator of a motor vehicle on their own.

(Information Credit to the Las Vegas injury lawyers at Ladah Law Firm)

Tim Esterdahl

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