How to Talk to Teenagers About Driving Safety

There’s nary a stage in a child’s life that isn’t challenging as a parent. My article is about how to talk to teenagers about driving safety.

There’s nary a stage in your child’s life that isn’t challenging as a parent. Unfortunately, there’s no owner’s manual for children. You have to be comfortable with failing sometimes. 

One area you cannot afford to fail as a parent, though, is teaching your children driving safety. That’s because driving safety is a life or death matter. No parent should ever bury their child, but the truth of the matter is that we cannot control everything our children do. The best we can do is teach our children to remain safe on the road and pray you won’t have to hire a car accident attorney one day.

According to research conducted by Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, teens who are coached and monitored are half as likely to get in a car crash. If you’re unsure how to coach your children in this new phase of life, then you came to the right place. The following are topics to discuss so you can help your teenage child drive safely. 

Driving Visibility

Our most important sense when driving is our vision. Without it, or if it’s impaired, we’re an immediate danger to ourselves and others. This is why it’s of the utmost importance to maintain a clear and debris-free windshield. 

Frost, rainwater, and even low sunrises and sunsets can make for hazardous driving visibility. Show your child how to properly remove snow and frost before it settles and freezes. You’d be surprised how few “common sense” things most people actually know. 

Car Accidents

Due to their inexperience behind the steering wheel, teens are 3x more likely to have an accident per mile than adults. Speak with your teenager about what to do when an accident occurs and how to approach another driver following one. Attempting to speak with your child immediately after a fender-bender can be a logistical nightmare and is unlikely to help much. 

Discussing accident protocols is paramount to maintaining a safe life on the road. If your child gets in an accident, having to hire a car accident attorney is a best-case scenario. Worst case? Your child doesn’t make it back home from a night out.

Defensive Driving Schools

A garden-variety driving school will teach your children the rules of the road: laws, regulations, social norms. A defensive driving school, on the other hand, will teach your child things like collision avoidance, ABS vs. threshold braking, and skid prevention & control. There’s no doubt that your teenager needs the very basics first, but if you care to increase their survival likelihood, a defensive driving course is a great idea. 

Avoiding Distractions

Your teenager must understand that cell phone use while driving is one of the leading causes of fatal car accidents in the states. Not only is it illegal, but it is also highly irresponsible. Sternly convey that in no way, shape, or form are they to whip out an iPhone while driving. If there is an emergency or if they need to answer an important call, they’re to pull over to the side of the road in the first safe area they encounter. Also, be sure to instruct them on how to pull over on a shoulder properly.

Car Inspections 

Stress the importance of getting routine car inspections to ensure the vehicle is maintaining all proper functionality. Periodically ensure that your son or daughter’s instrument panel isn’t displaying any warning signs. You can certainly let your child know what to look out for, patiently showing them what the indicator lights look like in the owner’s manual, but there are plenty of adults who ignore or fail to notice these warnings.

Roadside Assistance

AAA and other roadside assistance agencies can be a lifesaver–literally. The side of a dangerous highway can be a frightful situation for a new driver and can potentially lead to tragedy. That’s not to scare you or deter you from teaching your child how to drive on a highway, but to overstate the safety utility of something like a roadside assistance agency. Consider getting one. The added bonus is less stress for mom and dad when your child eventually breaks down. 

Managing Intersections

Even since COVID-19 struck society, fewer people are driving on the road while driving-related fatalities have increased. More than ever, people are driving erratically. Swerving from lane to lane, crossing through red and yellow lights at high speeds, and intense tailgating are just a few of the issues you’ll commonly find on the road these days.

Teach your child how to properly check all lanes of traffic before crossing an intersection and let them know their lives could depend on stopping at a yellow light. 

Severe Weather Conditions

Weather conditions, without question, affect how well we drive. Rain, snow, and resulting debris from storms can create dangerous driving hazards and should be expected and prepared for. Try taking your child to a parking lot and have them practice driving around obstacles at a moderate speed. Show them how to properly apply the brakes in slippery conditions and how to control the vehicle if it hits a skid or slide. 

Animals

Depending on where you live, you may have a bevy of bouncing creatures curious to cross the road at the most unfortunate times. Deer and smaller animals like rabbits, cats, dogs, and opossum like to scatter across darkly lit streets. Preparing for them by driving slowly, especially when surrounded by wooded areas, is vital to staying safe on country roads. 

For many teenagers, driving is their first taste of freedom. Many young people are champing at the bit to get on the road before they know how to navigate safely. Teach them the lessons that we have covered in this article, and your child will be better suited for a healthy life on the road.

About the Author

Roni Davis is a writer, blogger, and legal assistant operating out of the greater Philadelphia area.

 

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