When your first child is learning to drive, it can make you panic. The parental anxiety that comes with having a child behind the wheel is seemingly incomparable to anything else you’ve experienced before. Fortunately, the lessons you teach while your teen is learning to drive can help ease some of your fear and some of theirs. Here are a few important lessons you can impart to your new teen driver.
The Phone Can Wait
When there are almost 6 million car accidents on U.S. roads every year, it becomes clear just how important it is to teach your teen that distractions can wait. That includes phone calls, text messages, and skipping to the next song on their favorite playlist. When distractions like those presented by smartphones get tangled up in the driving experience, the roads become unsafe for everyone on them. Every day, almost 1,000 people are injured in car accidents that occurred as a result of distracted driving. If your teen has questions about how to keep from looking at their phone, offer the following tips:
- Turn your phone off.
- Remove your phone from your pocket.
- Keep your phone in the glove compartment.
- Text friends to tell them you’ll be driving and not to text you.
- Use a CD or the radio while you drive instead of your phone.
These simple safety tips can help your teen remember to put their phone out of sight and out of mind while they’re driving. And remember: you need to set a good example for your teen, as well. Following your own advice about phones and driving can go a long way.
Learn the Bells and Whistles
One of the most dangerous distractions in a car can actually be the car itself. If you haven’t had time to familiarize yourself with a car’s buttons, knobs, and other functions, you might as well be looking at your phone while you drive. And considering that hit and run accidents occur once about every 43 seconds on U.S. roads, it’s important to be as alert and familiar with a car’s functions as possible. So before you even have your teen put their foot on the gas pedal for the first time, put them in the driver’s seat and get them familiar with the bells and whistles of the car they’ll be driving. These opportunities should be taken regularly so that when your teen is ready to start driving, they’ll know how to turn on the windshield wipers, use the high-beams, and tune the radio without even needing to look. This can help them stay focused on the road and not on learning a whole new car.
Your Actions Affect Others
The most important thing to teach your teen about driving is that they’re not the only person on the road. Their actions affect other drivers, which means staying alert and following the law are paramount to their driving success. The speed limit might seem a little bit slow, but if they come up too quickly on someone who isn’t speeding, they could get into a car accident and potentially injure or kill another driver and their passengers. Almost 72% of car accidents result in property damage, which means someone else’s car, life, or home may be affected by one driver’s actions. When you’re teaching your teen to drive, remind them that no matter how frustrated they may be, their actions inside a car can have dangerous consequences for themselves and for others.
Their actions can affect vehicles that don’t operate on roads, either. Take trains, for instance. If a car doesn’t stop at a railroad as the barriers are going down, it could have severe consequences for both the train operator and whoever is in the car driving. Considering that there were almost 4,000 railroad accidents in 2015 alone, ignoring safety precautions around railroads is not a risk anyone should be willing to take.
Teaching your teen to drive can be a wonderful experience for both parties. And when you make sure these safety tips are in your driving lessons, you’re paving the way for your teen to become a safe, responsible driver when they get their full license.