When your teen gets his or her driver’s license it can be scary for a lot of reasons. One, they’re growing up. That thought alone may be enough to get you misty-eyed. Two, your teen, who seems to have the attention span of a house fly and a cell phone as an extra limb, now has the legal right to operate a motor vehicle. Need more be said?
As a parent, how can you make sure your teen is a “good” driver? How can you ensure his or her safety as well as other drivers on the road?Here are some tips:
Set a good example. It’s great to tell your teen how to be a safe driver, but it’s important that you are a safe driver as well. If your teen sees you constantly speeding, following too close, and exhibiting other bad driving habits he or she is likely to imitate them.
One thing you want to make sure you emphasize to your teen is not to speed or feel pressured to keep up with traffic. This is especially important because speeding causes approximately 40 percent of all fatal accidents involving teens (dmv.org, n.d.).
Instruct your teen not to use his or her cell phone while driving. According to dmv.org, texting cause a loss of focus on the road for an average of five seconds (n.d.). While that may not seem like a long time, a lot can happen in five seconds. Imagine closing your eyes for five seconds while you’re driving down the road.
If you suspect your teen is texting or making phone calls while driving do some investigating. If you’re paying your teen’s cell phone bill or if he or she is on the family plan you should be able to access usage records. Check to see if your teen is sending text messages or engaging in phone conversations when you know he or she was driving.
Set rules to minimize distractions. Having a bunch of people in the car, blasting loud music, eating and drinking, or playing with the radio can all be distracting to a driverespecially an inexperienced driver. Set boundaries with your teen that help cut down on those distractions until he or she has gained some drive time. For instance, limit the number of passengers that can be onboard; after all, this isn’t a clown car at the circus.
Use technology to monitor your teen. While it may feel like spying, you can install devices in your car to track your teen’s driving habits. This is one surefire way to know if your teen is obeying traffic laws as well as to know where he or she is going. These devices are typically touted as GPS Safety Systems and can be purchased online. For example: http://tagngo.com.