Getting a driver's license is a rite of passage for many teens. After spending months in a driver's education class, and practicing driving with parents and instructors, it can be so exciting to finally have that little card or slip of paper that allows kids to get behind the wheel and out on the road all on their own. Letting them go, however, is another story. It's natural for parents to worry about their new driver, and though it may taper off down the road, anxiety will be high for many months after a teen starts driving. It's a good idea to have a heart to heart with your new driver about safe driving practices, and to even provide them with a few safety tips that they can refer to when they're off on their own.
#1- Drive Now, Text Later
The number of deaths caused by distracted driving is frightening. It's the number one cause of accidents and fatalities, and can all be avoided simply by not looking at a phone while driving. In many states, texting while driving is illeagal and the minium fine for texting while driving is $150.00. It's not worth your teen risking their life or anyone else's. Don't text them when you know they're driving, and encourage them not to text when behind the wheel.
#2- Practice, Practice, Practice.
Just because your teen has passed their driver's test and accquired their lisence, it doesn't mean that they're rock star drivers. Good driving skills come with time, and it's still important for them to practice their reactions, etc. Go with them to an empty parking lot and continue to help them practice braking, parking, backing up, etc.
#3- Teach Them Not to Overreact While Driving
One of the worst things any driver can do is to overreact while driving. If a driver accidentally drifts a bit over the line while driving, absolutely do not jerk the wheel to quickly get the car back into the lane. Jerking can cause the car to jump into another lane or oncoming traffic and cause an accident.
#4- Teach Them Not to Be Afraid of the Brakes
Many drivers- not just new ones, are afraid of using the brakes. They're there to protect you, and to be used when needed! When practicing driving in that empty parking lot, practice slamming on the brakes. It's not an ideal thing to have to do, but sometimes it's necessary to avoid accidents and potentially save lives.
#5- Tell Them to Drive Like There's a Cop Behind Them
Drivers tend to be extra cautious when they know there's a police car behind them on the road. Truth is, drivers should always be that cautious... not just when there's a police car in view. Slowing down, making full stops at stop lights and stop signs, using turn sigals properly, and always looking/using mirrors are great safety tips to use at all times.
You can't hold your new driver's hand forever, and eventually, they'll have to get used to driving completely on their own. Set rules, ask questions about who your teen is giving rides to (friends, etc), and if need be, set limits on where they can go, how late they can stay out, and who has permission to ride in the car with them.
Brought to you by Kim's Nissan.