Getting a driver’s license is no guarantee that the new driver is a safe driver. Surprisingly, experience does not necessarily make drivers safer! In fact, a recent study by the insurance company Liberty Mutual in partnership with Students Against Destructive Decisions showed older teen drivers often engage in more bad driving behaviors than new drivers. How do you make sure you are reinforcing teen safe driving in your family? We have three strategies to help you promote good driving habits in your teen as they begin driving on their own.
Do Not Rush The Licensing Process
If your teen has not yet gotten their license, encourage them to take their time. Make sure you completely understand the licensing process in your state. Remember, guidelines for hours behind the wheel are just minimum requirements. Why not commit to at least an extra ten hours of driving? Better yet, have your teen complete double the required time. Every hour spent practicing before the test is also an hour spent laying the foundations of good driving.
Teen Safe Driving Courses
Your state may require teens to take an approved driver education course to get their license. There are more courses available, though, to promote good driving habits. These classes may be online, in classrooms or hands-on. Many will illustrate the dangers of distracted driving to your teen. Safe driving is more than just paying attention, though. Courses such as Tire Rack’s Street Survival class teach safe driving techniques for realistic challenges. They teach drivers what to do when skidding on wet roads, for example. Kia also sponsors a program that offers classes around the country. Check with your insurance company and highway patrol department for supplemental driving courses. You may even find classes that will qualify your teen for an insurance discount.
Creating Safe Driving Habits In Teens
Safe driving is not just a set of skills, it is a set of habits. The Liberty Mutual study mentioned above found that seniors in high school were twice as likely as new drivers to engage in risky behaviors. It has been suggested that this is because older teens are a little more comfortable and confident. Driving safely for a couple of years gives them the confidence to be less safe! This just underscores the need to reinforce good driving choices. For your teen, safe driving needs to become a habit.
You must continue to teach your teen even after they get a license. Be sure you are setting a good example when you drive! Wear your seat belt, turn off your cellphone and use your blinkers. Make sure you are being a good driving role model. Talk about good driving, and bad driving, when you are in the car together. Using a GPS tracker is a great way to monitor driving with your teen, particularly when it comes to speeding.
It is important that you reinforce the positive instead of merely pointing out the negative. The key to building good habits is being positive. Make sure your teen understands you are trying to reward good habits, not just punish mistakes.