For a teenager, earning their driver’s license is a rite of passage, one more step toward adulthood and independence. It’s also one that they can accomplish before they graduate high school and move out, with most teens getting their driver’s permit at 15 and their license at 16. As parents and guardians, it’s up to us to instill the importance of safe driving in our teens before they’re out on the road on their own.
With that in mind, here are 8 tips that you can teach your teen to keep them safe on the road and behind the wheel, even when you’re not in the passenger seat.
1. Seat Belt. Always.
This is a habit that you can start instilling as soon as your children outgrow their car seats or booster seats. Everyone should wear their seatbelt every time they get into the car. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), seatbelts saved an estimated 14,955 lives in 2017, preventing untold injuries and fatalities.
Teach your kids to always wear their seatbelts, and to insist that everyone in their car does the same, especially when they’re the one behind the wheel.
2. Don’t Speed
It’s tempting to put the pedal to the metal, especially if there’s a slow driver in front of them. Make sure you’re impressing on them that not only will speeding not get them to their destination faster, but it puts them at more risk for an accident.
Don’t speed. Drive the speed limit unless weather conditions make it dangerous to do so.
3. Don’t Drive Impaired
We all know not to drive drunk — there have been campaigns dedicated to the prevention of drunk driving for decades. A new gray area exists with marijuana as states begin to legalize the substance for medical and recreational use across the country. Make sure that your teen is aware that driving while high is still impaired driving. According to the NHTSA, 18% of fatal car accidents involved a driver who was high on something.
Don’t drive impaired, no matter what is impairing you or whether or not it’s legal in your state.
4. No Distractions.
It feels like teens are constantly attached to their cell phones, but distracted driving is almost as dangerous as driving under the influence. Distractions don’t just include texting and driving through — brushing your hair, eating a snack, reaching for a french fry, or doing your makeup in the rearview mirror are all forms of distraction and can all make you dangerous behind the wheel.
Don’t drive distracted.
5. Set Your Playlist
Speaking of distractions, before you pull out of the parking lot make sure your playlist is set so you don’t have to fiddle with your radio or phone to find the perfect song.
Listening to music behind the wheel is fine but make sure you’re not putting yourself or others at risk trying to find a song or search for a Spotify playlist.
6. Obey Traffic Laws
Remind your teen of all those traffic laws that they had to memorize during their driver’s education class. They’re not just something that you remember for the test and then forget again. They’re something that you’ll need to stay aware of the entire time you’re behind the wheel.
Ensure that your teen is obeying all traffic laws when they’re driving. If they make a mistake, remind them gently, especially since you won’t always be in the passenger seat to make sure they make the right decision.
7. Watch Out for Emergency Services
This is one rule of the road that even many experienced drivers tend to forget. If emergency services have their lights and sirens on, they have the right of way. That means slow down, pull off to the side of the road if you can do so safely, and get out of their way.
Don’t let your teens forget to show the necessary respect to emergency services by getting out of their way if they’ve got their lights or sirens on.
8. Share the Road
Finally, make sure you’re teaching your teen drivers the importance of sharing the road. Bikers and pedestrians often have as much right to the road as the cars that they’re driving, which means that drivers need to be aware of them. No matter how many pads and helmets they’re wearing, a pedestrian is never going to win a fight with a car.
Make sure your teens know how to safely share the road, especially as we start moving into the summer months. Warmer temperatures mean more people will be out and about.
Teach Them Well to Keep Them Safe
We won’t always be able to instruct our teen drivers from the passenger seat. Teach them well while you have the opportunity to do so and your lessons will keep them safe while they’re out on the road on their own.