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Making Your Teen a Better Driver
It is an event that most parents both long for – no more driving their teens to early-morning practices or picking them up late from a friend’s house – and dread. You want to do all you can to ensure that your children become safe and responsible drivers. But you should start that process very early, according to the website AutoBlog.
Everyone has seen toddlers in their car seats pretending to drive. Even very young children are aware of the behavior of the adults around them. So model good driving behavior, even to a small child. Pay attention to the road – don’t eat or talk on your phone or fiddle with the radio while you are driving. And stay calm -- don’t yell or swear at other drivers.
When your child starts to sit in the front seat when you are driving, take the opportunity to point out the things you are observing, such as a car ahead that is drifting over the center line or children playing who could run into the street. Be conversational, not preachy. The idea is to get your child used to seeing the road as a driver should.
When your child starts to drive with a permit, honestly evaluate yourself as an instructor. First, are you a good driver yourself? And do you have the patience to remain calm and correct the mistakes that young drivers inevitably make? If you are not a good candidate for driving instructor, find someone else – the other parent, a relative or friend – who would be a better choice.
Develop a set of rules for young drivers. When can they use the car? Do they have to pay anything toward the insurance? What about passengers; can they drive other people and, if so, who and under what conditions? What happens if they are in an accident or get a ticket? Make sure your child understands the rules – and the consequences for not following the rules. Then, once the child has a license, enforce the rules.
Don’t rush to get the child a car. Studies show that young drivers who have to ask their parents for permission to borrow the family car are less likely to get into trouble. Plus, it reinforces the idea that driving is a privilege that must be earned.
And finally, let your children know they can always be honest with you. Tell them that if they ever feel that they are not able to drive, they should call you and you will come and get them. This could mean they are at a party and have been drinking, of course. But it also could mean they are upset, exhausted or find themselves in a sudden blizzard. You will sort out the issue later, whether than involves discipline for drinking or practice driving in snow. But you want your teen to understand that their safety is your highest priority.