We all want the best for our kids. From the day our children are born, we dutifully shop for the safest cribs, hunt for quality daycare and do all we can to raise them right. Of course, the challenge gets harder with age: it’s no longer about buying a top-rated car seat to keep them safe in the car, it’s about teaching them to drive defensively. Far from the only lesson to pass along to teen drivers, though, this strategy is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to teaching your kids to drive.
Maybe you’re just beginning to teach your son or daughter to maneuver around empty parking lots. Perhaps you have older teens who have been behind the wheel for many years now. Whatever your situation, having an inexperienced teen in the driver’s seat is enough to make any parent nervous. Here are a few simple ways to ensure your teen is a better driver:
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Practice Makes Perfect
While it might sound like common sense, practice is really the gold standard when it comes to making someone a safer, more proficient driver. In many states, new drivers are required to log hours of experience behind the wheel with a parent or other adult in the passenger seat next to them. This kind of mandatory practice should be just the beginning.
Give your teen the opportunity to drive whenever possible. While it might be easier for you to helm the minivan in a hurry, giving kids the chance to experience driving in different settings is important. For example, if your teen only drives to and from school each day, they’ll be ill-prepared to drive on the highway when it comes time to go off to college. From one-lane rural roads to turnpikes and tunnels, teens need to experience all kinds of driving.
Obey Passenger Restrictions
In most states, teens under the age of 18 are restricted to having just one friend in the car at a time. While this can certainly quash a new driver’s sense of independence and freedom, such laws exist for a reason. When too many kids squeeze into a car, distractions can become a serious problem. Excited chatter, loud music, and playfulness can lead to bad decisions on the driver’s part.
While your teen may be legally allowed behind the wheel, they are still very much underage. No matter how mature they come off, kids will inevitably be kids. By enforcing passenger restrictions, you help remind your teen that their actions have consequences and that the law exists for their safety.
Enroll in Driving School
Most high schools offer a behind-the-wheel driver’s education course. This is considered standard and is how most folks get their license. Unfortunately, though, these courses are often limited in their scope. There isn’t always time to cover the entire curriculum, and an emphasis is placed on passing the driver’s test. Safety isn’t always a priority in such classes.
Thankfully, there are private driving schools that offer a bit more than your average driver’s ed class might. Many motorists who are ticketed for speeding or reckless driving are sent to such schools by court order. Get your teen ahead of the curve and have them take an extra course on driver safety. You’ll be surprised at how much more they’ll learn in a setting outside of their school!
Prepare for the Worst
As a parent, it’s easy to catastrophize about the hazards your teen will face on the road. While it’s not necessary to scare kids, you should do all you can to prepare them for an accident. Make sure they know the proper procedure for handling a collision: collecting insurance information, driver’s license details and calling the police are all important steps. Equally as important are taking photos of the damage, talking with witnesses about what they saw, and moving out of the way of traffic. While such steps might feel second-nature to older, more experienced drivers, they aren’t as obvious to teens.
Of course, should your teen be involved in a wreck, it’s a good idea to report the incident to both the police and your insurance company. Most people often don’t understand how auto insurance premiums and deductibles work until they find themselves involved in a crash. Teens will get a first-hand lesson on the results of such collisions and they’ll see how their wreck impacts their insurance rates.
There comes a time when every baby bird learns to fly and begins to leave the nest. If you’re an anxious mama or papa bird, taking the above tips into consideration can help. And should your teen be involved in a wreck, Lawsuit Info Center is standing by, ready to help you find an attorney in your area.
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