Picture this scenario: You, an experienced driver, are traveling through the city at the posted speed-limit. You find yourself negotiating busy intersections, changing traffic patterns―then all of a sudden your phone rings. What is your next move?
What would you do if your teen was in the car beside you? Now consider this same scenario, however, this time, imagine it is your newly-licensed teenager behind the wheel, driving through the city at the posted speed-limit, while negotiating busy intersections and changing traffic patterns. If during this trip his or her cell phone begins to ring, what do you expect your teen will do? What would you want the response to be?
How Do You Want Your Teen To Respond?
Likely you hope your child chooses not to answer the call or to respond to the text while driving. However, how can you know the correct decision will be made? Start by recognizing that you are the most influential factor in assuring your teen has the foundation to make good choices behind the wheel. They will most likely imitate the driving habits―good or bad, of the person with whom they drive with the most. It is probably also the person who has taught them to drive―and that is likely you Mom and Dad.
Teens are Watching Your Actions Behind the Wheel
Do not fall into the parent trap of expecting your child to do as you say, but not as you do. Make no mistake about it; your children are watching your actions behind the wheel, observing your reactions to stressful driving conditions, and examining how well you pay attention to your driving responsibilities. Demonstrating good driving habits which your children can emulate will help assure they make better choices for themselves when they have the keys to the car.
Crashes are the Number One Killer of Teens
A recent survey found that 59 percent of parents are aware that crashes are the number one killer of teens, but only one quarter of those parents talked about safe driving with their children. However, just having the conversation is not enough. If you want your children to believe safe driving is important, you have to “walk the walk” and consistently reinforce the message by driving in a safe and responsible manner yourself.
Every Time Your Teen is Drives With You A Lesson Occurs
Every time your teen is with you in the car, a lesson in driving occurs, whether you are aware of it or not. As a safe and responsible driver, set an example worthy of imitation, such as always using the seat belt, turning your phone off, traveling at a safe speed, and being mindful of your response to aggressive drivers.
While some teens do crash as the result of risky behavior, most crashes occur because the young driver does not have the skills or experience necessary to recognize and deal with certain hazards. Take an active role in fast-tracking your son’s or daughter’s safety performance. Provide him or her with extra hours of practical, hands-on experience where you can offer helpful coaching tips. And remember, your actions behind the wheel, good or bad, are making an impression today and will certainly influence how your teen drives tomorrow.