Guiding Your Teen Behind the Wheel: 4 Tips to Safety

Cassie is a 16 – year old from Los Angeles, CA.  She enjoys acting, playing guitar and spending time with her younger brothers. Her favorite subject is English because she wants to be a writer.

After fifteen and a half years of reminding your child to buckle their seatbelts before taking off, your teenager is finally sitting in the driver’s seat.  You are no longer needed as a chauffeur or as the designated carpool parent on Tuesday mornings.  You may initially be filled with excitement that your teen is becoming more mature and independent, as he/she begins to take have more control over his/her life.  Another part of you may be fearful of this new milestone, as you grow to know that your child is now in possession and in power of an automated vehicle more than ten times their size.   While you harbor worries and anxieties, it is important to realize that your teen too shares similar concerns and nervousness.

These tips will help you guide your teen through his/her driving training and education, keen to ensuring his/her safety on the road.

1. Trust Your Teenager: Start Early

It is a common misconception that teenagers are all irresponsible drivers because of their fervent eagerness to immediately set out on the road.  However, beginning drivers are all nervous when they first press their foot against the pedal.  When your teen first gets their driver’s permit, take them to large empty parking lots.  Allow your teen to get a feel of the sensitivity of the gas and brake pedals.  Help him/her develop control over the steering wheel by practicing small turns and reversing into parking spaces.

2. Give Constructive Criticism

Avoid abruptly yelling and scolding when your teen makes a mistake while driving.  All this does is put more pressure on him and he will begin to lose confidence in his skills.  If your teen, for example, rolled at a stop sign calmly remind him a few seconds afterwards that he needs to be more cautious at all times.  While it is understood that you are only concerned about your own safety, try not to scream, “You’re going too fast!”  Instead, simply remind your teenager, “Be aware of your speed in this area.”

3. Prepare for the Test Date

Prepare your teenager for her driving test at the DMV.  Allow her as much practice as she can receive and be mindful that she may be extremely stressed out and nervous on this day.  Remind her that this is simply one test and she has many opportunities to enhance her driving skills in the future.  Be sure to tell your teen that passing her driver’s test is not the end to her growth as driver.  She must still be attentive to new road signs and must consistently abide by all driving codes

4. Set a Zero Tolerance Policy for Drunk Driving

Make an agreement with your teenager that not matter what – you will always be able to pick them up from wherever they are should they need transportation. Many teenagers lose their lives to drunk driving car accidents every year.  Have regular talks with your teenager about this issue and tell them that they would not get into any trouble if they phone you for a ride, despite being under the influence.

It is normal to have mixed feelings when your teenager begins to drive.  Understand that your teen is experiencing these same emotions as well, both eager and nervous about taking control of his/her own transportation.    Follow these four tips, and your teen will be on the road to becoming to safe, successful driver.

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