It’s natural for a parent to be concerned about their teenager behind the wheel. With limited driving experience, you worry about your teen coming home safe every night. Though time and practice will help them in becoming more efficient, it’s your responsibility to protect your teen in advance by teaching them about the rules of the road. They likely already know about basic traffic laws from driver’s education, but getting more detailed can be the very thing that keeps them safe. Below, are a few topics to discuss with your teen driver:
1) Distracted Driving
A very important topic to talk to your teen driver about is distracted driving. Operating a vehicle while trying to send a text message, take pictures, answer a phone call, put on makeup, or do your hair increases your chances of getting in an accident. Explain to your teen the importance of keeping their eyes focused on the road.
2) Seat belts
It might seem cool to drive around without a seat belt on but it’s against the law. Not to mention, if your teen is driving without a seat belt the impact from an accident could cause significant damage. There are lots of demonstration videos online you can use to explain what happens to a driver without a seat belt. It may be scary for them to watch, but this fear can encourage them to buckle up before taking off.
3) Driving Under the Influence
Adolescence is typically the time when children start experimenting with drugs and alcohol. While you hope your teen steers clear of these sorts of activities, you should still educate them on the dangers and consequences of operating a vehicle after using drugs or alcohol. You should talk to them about how these substances impair their ability to drive and increase their chances of getting in an accident. You should also talk about what happens if they are pulled over while under the influence. Discuss the difference between driving under the influence vs driving while impaired and the fines and legal consequences that could come from that.
4) Car Safety Checks
Before getting behind the wheel your teen should learn how to thoroughly inspect the car to ensure it is safe to drive. This doesn’t mean making maintenance and repairs but simply doing a basic check. Have them look to see that all of their lights are working, check the tires to ensure they’re inflated, and check the dashboard to see if they have enough gas and oil.
5) Driving in Poor Weather
While it is ideal to keep your inexperienced teens off the road in bad weather you can’t predict what mother nature has in store. So, it’s best to prepare them. Talk to them about using fog lights when it’s foggy or heavy precipitation. Discuss the importance of driving at or below the speed limit to avoid slipping or hydroplaning. Go out with them during bad weather to teach them certain driving tips like how to slowly brake when there is ice on the ground or navigating poorly-lit roads in the rain. The more practice they get, they less inclined they are to get in an accident.
6) What to Do in an Accident
Though the hope is that your teenager is never involved in an accident, the reality is that it could happen. It is important that your teen knows what to do when they’ve been in an accident to remain safe. Go through the process of what they should do including contacting the authorities, exiting the vehicle (if they’re able), taking photos of the damage, exchanging information with the other driver (but not admitting guilt), and grabbing information from any witnesses. Then, go over the process for filing an insurance claim. Though you’ll be there to complete this part for them now, when they’re older and have their own insurance and vehicle, it’s good information for them to know.
You’re very proud that your teen has learned all the basics to driving. Be that as it may, you’re also concerned about them being out there on the road. While you can’t control everything that happens while your teenager is behind the wheel, you can do your part to keep them safe. This starts with informing them of the dangers of driving and teaching them how to avoid accidents and what to do should they end up in one. This will give you peace of mind and reduce the chances of your teen getting seriously hurt.