If you are like most parents, you may be dreading the day your teen takes the wheel for the first time. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that drivers in the 16-to-19 age group are more likely to have an auto accident than any other age group. This risk is especially high during the first months after getting a license, for male drivers and for teens who are driving with teen passengers.
As a parent, taking steps to help your teen learn to drive safely can mitigate some of this risk. Try these teaching tips when your child gets his or her learner’s permit.
Take it slow
Hold the first lesson in a quiet parking lot without a high volume of cars. Let your teen get a feel for the vehicle and explain the car’s key functions. Allow him or her to practice steering, accelerating, braking and parking.
Once your child gets comfortable and demonstrates control of the basic functions of the car, try quiet roads. Look for areas with speed limits of under 35 miles per hour and practice basics such as stopping at a stop sign and turning at intersections.
Hit the highway
Although the idea of highway driving with a beginner sounds daunting, your teen will never learn to be a safe driver without practice. For your first trip on a busier road, choose a time when fewer cars are out and about so your child can practice merging, changing lanes and entering and exiting the highway safely.
Model good habits
If you use your smartphone behind the wheel–one of the leading causes of distracted driving accidents–your teen will not take you seriously when you talk about the dangers of texting and driving. Practice what you preach when it comes to safe driving habits such as obeying the speed limit and wearing a seatbelt.
Make sure your teen is ready to drive before taking the test. Extensive practice creates a safe, confident driver who is less likely to experience an auto accident.