There are probably all kinds of thoughts going through your mind during this period of parenthood. Your innocent, young child has reached a milestone in life that brings a new freedom they have been dreaming about for the last 15-16 years!
Your child’s dependence on you has just been reduced tremendously and we know you are probably a little relieved you don’t have to shuffle them around all over town. But in the back of your mind, you can only hope that all your guidance will be enough to help them stay safe behind the wheel.
But Simply Hoping Doesn’t Give You Peace of Mind, Does It?
Teen drivers are five times more likely to get into a car accident than an experienced driver, and car accidents are the leading cause of death of teens.
When you get down to the root of why so many teenagers cause accidents, they don’t fully understand the consequences their actions can cause. One simple mistake in judgment can lead to the worst of situations. We don’t want it to ever happen to you!
The Five Steps to Teen Driver Safety
Step One: Take a Home Study Driving Course with Your Teen
Studies have proven the more time spent practicing with your teen driver, the less likely it is that they will get into an accident. Let’s face it: this is a new experience for them and the skills that can take years to become habit are just not developed yet. We know they all think they can drive just as well as you, but the truth is their brains haven’t fully developed yet. The hard-wired reactions that took you years to build up in your brain, well… they are just getting started.
As adults, we sometimes take for granted our ability to avoid and react to sticky situations. You need to realize that a teen driver doesn’t have this ability. They have never had to deal with these situations.
Prepare Your Teen for the Worst so When the Worst Happens, They’ll React Properly!
The only way to prepare them is to practice in a safe environment. Experts recommend a minimum of 100 hours of practice behind the wheel before allowing a new driver to drive without supervision. This time should be spent practicing a series of specific techniques to prepare the new driver for certain situations.
For example, a very common mistake teen drivers make that causes accidents is “over-correcting”. There are usually other factors such as speeding that help cause these accidents, but when a teen driver gets in a situation and tries to avoid a crash, they tend to overcorrect and the vehicle loses control.
Have you ever found yourself veering off the road and suddenly — when you realize it — you pull the wheel too hard and then have to pull back in the other direction to get your car under control? A teen driver would never realize that this sudden action can cause the vehicle to go out of control and crash.
By spending time with your teen and following a structured guide to practice specific techniques, your teen can learn in a safe environment how to avoid accidents rather than learning on the road where the dangers are real. Take time to have your teen pull off the road, over the noise markers, and then slowly correct their path to get the vehicle back on the road.
Step Two: Have Your Teen Take a Safety Profile Assessment
Everyone has hidden traits built into their personality that others may never know about. Most people may not even know this about themselves. We tend to do things or react to things for reasons unknown to us.
Your teen also has tendencies that you should be aware of, especially before they get behind the wheel. Why?
A car can bring out certain behaviors that can cause serious damage; damage to property and people. It is important to you, as a parent, to be aware of these possible behaviors before you hand over the car keys.
These assessments are available online and are quite affordable.
Step Three: Install a GPS-Based Alert System
It has been proven that the likelihood of a child doing something wrong is greatly reduced if they know they will get caught.
Let us tell you a little story about a kid named Jared. While on his way back from a church retreat, the GPS system alerted the parent of his dangerous driving behavior. His father immediately called and revealed his secret to him and told him to slow down and come home immediately.
Since Jared’s discovery of the alert system, his father has not received an alert yet. Jared now knows that if he breaks a rule, his father will know about it. Without this system, the parent would have never known about his son’s behavior, unless something tragic happened.
There are many systems available with a small monthly maintenance charge. Most car and truck accessory shops carry these.
Step Four: Use Special Tools to Help Your Teen Driver Become a More Responsible Driver
A parent/teen driving contract: Most local insurance agents have a parent/teen driving contract they will willingly share with you if you just ask them for one. They usually include an agreement section and a consequences section for a variety of behaviors behind the wheel. It’ll cover things like seatbelt use, time of day, how many passengers, DUI, radio volume, etc. — pretty much all the stuff our parents never mentioned to us!
By signing a contract and agreeing to the terms of the contract, you’ll be setting a good expectation with your teen driver and agreeing to the consequences before getting behind the wheel.
For example: If they are late getting home, they might lose two days of driving privileges. If they get a speeding ticket, they might lose a month or two of driving privileges.
Step Five: Be Stubborn and Determined to Keep Your Teen Driver Safe – Especially During the First Three Years!
Don’t Just Sit Back and Relax — This Is Only Beginning!
As parents, we have to realize that our teens will not become safe drivers until they get the experience they need to avoid almost any dangerous situation on the road. This can take years, but is most critical within the first three years. Once you have the tools, we can talk about how to make sure you are properly covered with a new teen driver in your household.
If your teen happens to get in trouble because of a driving accident, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us!