Help Your Teen Drive Responsibly
As parents, there are few things in life we fear more than our children being involved in an automobile accident—fatal or otherwise. But we also know (from our own personal experience being a teenager!) that learning how to drive is an important developmental milestone in most American teens’ lives. Few things are as invigorating as the open road, and the freedom to travel far and wide is indeed a great blessing. Driving teaches us all many lessons, and is a responsibility not to be taken lightly, or for granted. So how do we, as parents and guardians, prepare our kids and grandchildren for this massive undertaking?
Practice Makes (Near) Perfect
There is no such thing as a perfect driver (no matter what our fathers told us), but with a little extra practice time around the neighborhood, or in nearby parking lots, teens can begin to master the art of driving. Once your child starts nearing the legal driving age, assuming they have an interest in becoming a driver at 16, offer to take them out for practice drives on quiet back roads—note, many parents start these practice sessions with their kids before they’re enrolled in drivers education, but we can only recommend driving dates with your child once it’s legally permissible.
By setting aside time each week to work with your teen on their skills, you show them that you care about their safety, and are interested in passing down your hard-won tips and advice.
Bonus tip: schedule out your practice session in advance, and stick to mutually agreed upon times. By consistently showing up for training, your teen will know that you’re seriously committed to helping them achieve their goals.
Driving is serious business, but it doesn’t have to be all furrowed brows and consternation. In fact, if children sense that you’re tense or afraid, they’re likely to project that in their driving sessions. Staying relaxed is important—make a mixed tape, or take your child down streets that have special meaning for you. Kids will be much more focused if they sense that the adults in the car trust them.
State Resources for Teen Drivers and Parents
These are just a handful of pointers to keep in mind in the quest to help the teens in your life become responsible drivers. For more tips and study aids, we suggest you visit your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles, or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.