Sooner or later that teenager you live with will be driving. What can you do to help them become safe drivers? Fortunately, studies show that parents have a greater influence on teens than you may expect.
Make it easy
For starters, before they turn 18, they should take a driver education course. That gives them a foundation for forming good driving habits. It also reduces friction between parent and teen, provides an organized approach to learning, and gives students a full education about driving.
A good course shows teens how to recognize and respond to hazardous situations; their inexperience in controlling risk is the main cause of teen car crashes, according to the Insurance Information Institute.2
Secondly, be willing to talk with your teen, and to walk your talk. Here are five tips to help you talk to your teen about safe driving:
- Be confident. Know that you can positively influence your young driver’s behavior behind the wheel.
- Set a good example. Be a safe driver yourself (if you are not already). Studies show that young drivers are influenced by the positive role modeling of their parents’ responsible driving behaviors.
- Know the facts about teen driving. Some teens increase their already high collision risk by speeding, drinking, driving at night, having peers as passengers and driving distracted. Oregon has Graduated Driver Licensing laws to help address the prevalence of risky behaviors among new drivers. Learn about these laws and resolve to enforce them.
- Be a great coach. Stay calm and set clear expectations and consequences regarding dangerous driving behaviors mentioned above. Put expectations in writing in a simple parent-teen driving contract. Be encouraging. Kids, including adolescents, respond best to positive reinforcement.
- Stay involved. Monitor your teen’s behavior behind the wheel – even after your teen obtains his or her license. Continue to coach them about how to drive safely. It takes time, experience, judgment and skill to learn how to drive safely. You may want to consider installing a monitoring device that provides data on driving behaviors that need improvement. And, be realistic: you will likely need to have multiple talks with your child about safe driving.