In 2016 alone, more than 292,742 teens received treatment at an emergency room for injuries related to a car accident. Statistically, they’re one of the highest risk groups of drivers on the road. They lack experience and are more likely to get in an accident than any other age group.
But when they’re mindful of safe driving techniques, they’re better prepared to avoid those accidents and keep themselves and other drivers safe on the road.
As a parent, you want your child to follow the law and be a cautious and safe driver at all times. But they won’t know what you expect of them unless you talk to them about driving safely.
Here are a few simple tips to help you have a productive and useful conversation with your teen driver.
Show Them What Safe Driving Means
Before you talk to your teen about driving safely, make sure you’re setting a good example. Look at your driving habits.
Are you sticking to the speed limit? Do you come to a full stop at stop signs? Are there a few risky things you do because you’re confident in your skills as a driver?
Remember, if you drive aggressively or roll through stop signs, your teen will start to believe those behaviors are acceptable. After all, you drive that way, so why can’t they?
And if you do try to talk to them without being a safe driver yourself, they won’t listen or see the value in what you have to say. The last thing you want is to have your teen ignoring your advice on how to drive a car safely.
Sit Down and Talk About It
No parent enjoys having serious and difficult conversations with their teen. But that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t happen.
When your teen is in driver’s education classes or gets their license, sit down with them and explain your concerns. Talk to them about the issues you’ve noticed while driving with them.
If they seem resistant, don’t panic. It’s normal and though it might not seem like it, your teen is still listening to what you’re saying.
And if you’ve noticed risky behaviors in the past, make sure they understand the importance of being safe. Remember, you can always take the keys away from them if they’re not following the law or are driving recklessly.
Discuss Real Life Events
Most local news stations cover car crashes and accidents, even if they’re just mentioned in passing. Use these accidents as an opportunity to discuss the rules of the road with your teen.
Talk about the hazards those drivers might have faced and discuss strategies for avoiding those hazards if your teen encounters similar situations on the road.
If their friends get involved in a traffic accident, discuss it with your teen. Find out what they think went wrong and how they think their friend should have responded behind the wheel.
If their responses are good, tell them so! But if they’re missing the point or just don’t seem to understand why things went wrong, explain the situation to them. They can learn from your experience.
Remember, as the parent, you’re the more experienced driver. You have the knowledge to help them improve their skills.
Point Out Risky Behaviors from Other Drivers
Even if your teen has their own car, they won’t always drive it—sometimes, you’ll still need to drive them places. And that time in the car is the perfect opportunity to discuss hazards as they pop up.
You’re already watching the road for risky drivers. As you notice them, point them out to your teen. See if they can identify the risky behavior as you drive the car.
If they can, ask them what the driver is doing wrong and what they should do if they encounter another driver doing the same thing. Listen to their responses and make gentle corrections if anything is wrong.
This helps them learn to read the road and prepares them to be better drivers in the future.
Teach Them What to Do in an Accident
Accidents happen even if your teen is the safest driver on the road. That’s why they need to know what to do if they find themselves in any type of traffic incident.
Go over the process. Tell them what they should do to get their car to safety, the type of information they need to give the other driver, and make sure they know where all their documents are every time they get behind the wheel.
If they do get in an accident, get them to help you with the insurance process. Have them listen in on speaker phone if you speak with the insurance agent or let them speak with your agent instead.
And if the accident is big enough, show them how to report it. Read more here to see when you need to report an accident and when you’re free to spare yourself the hassle.
This gives your teen hands-on experience that many young drivers don’t get.
Check In Regularly
The more your teen is on the road, the more hazards they’ll encounter. Check in with them every once in a while to see if there’s anything they’re worried about or struggling with.
This doesn’t have to be a full and involved conversation. Just give your teen the opportunity to ask questions and tell you what they’re having a hard time with on the road.
Just because they completed driver’s education classes doesn’t mean they won’t need a little coaching now and then.
Talking to your teen about safe driving is one of the most important things you can do. These tips should make having the conversation a bit easier both for you and your new driver.
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