October 17th through October 24th marks National Teen Driver Safety Week. Communities all over the country are using this event to raise awareness on how individuals, families, and organizations can help keep young drivers safe behind the wheel. Teen motorists face more potential risks on the road due to their young age and general inexperience, but they are perfectly capable of making smart decisions while driving when they are equipped with the proper education and adequate encouragement.
Protecting young drivers is a task that requires daily commitment, and National Teen Driver Safety Week serves as a great opportunity for community members to get reacquainted with the most effective ways to instill positive driving behavior in teenagers. Research has shown that parents are the number one influence on their teens’ driving habits, and when they intentionally take steps to ensure that their sons and daughters are being responsible motorists, any risks on the road can be significantly minimized.
Here are a few ways that parents can help their adolescents make safe and sensible choices behind the wheel:
Outline Clear Rules Focused on Risk Avoidance
The same research mentioned above found that teens whose parents enforced specific driving rules were less likely to engage in risky behavior. It also showed that both verbal and written agreements are effective, so whether parents choose to utilize an official driving contract or simply talk with their teens about specific expectations, agreements are most effective when the rules and consequences of breaking them are clearly laid out. Instead of only saying “drive safe” when your sons and daughters grab the keys and head to the car, parents will have a greater impact by clearly defining what safe driving means. This can include:
- Wearing a seat belt at all times
- Following Graduated Driver Licensing Laws
- Never driving while impaired or getting in the car with an intoxicated driver
- Minimizing distractions
- Obeying the speed limit
Continue to Take Drives with Their Teen Motorists
When teenagers obtain their drivers licenses, parents often take a backseat to supervising their behind-the-wheel behavior. While it’s healthy to give adolescent motorists some independence, parents who completely let go of the reins often don’t notice when their sons and daughters begin to demonstrate poor habits. By routinely setting aside time to take drives with their teens, parents can keep an eye on how their young drivers’ habits are evolving, and they can also take their turn in the driver’s seat to lead by example and model responsible motorist conduct.
Enroll Your Teen Drivers in a Defensive Driving Class
A large part of ensuring that a new motorist is able to safely navigate the open road comes down to providing that person with thorough drivers education. The drivers license test is designed to evaluate whether or not someone is capable of safely handling the day-to-day experiences most drivers face, but it cannot possibly assess a student’s ability to handle every possible condition or hazard that he/she may encounter while driving. This is why parents often choose to enroll their teens in a defensive driving course. These classes can help young motorists prepare for emergency situations and learn potentially life-saving skills, including skid control, hazard avoidance, precision driving skills, car maintenance basics, and distraction avoidance.
Reward Healthy Driving Behavior
It’s important for parents to provide their adolescents with constructive criticism when they observe risky behind-the-wheel behavior, but it’s also important to provide encouraging feedback when their teens make smart choices. Some parents choose to monitor their teenagers’ driving through apps that track speeding or cell-phone use while the vehicle is in motion, while other parents prefer to rely on the honor system and their own observations. Regardless of the method parents use to keep track of their sons and daughters’ habits, rewarding healthy driving behavior can help bolster driver skill and confidence. New motorists are often used to others pointing out their mistakes, but pairing verbal praise with a fun surprise, such as a gift card, movie night, or curfew extension allows parents to balance necessary criticism with motivating recognition of what their teens are doing right.
National Teen Driver Safety Week is an excellent time for communities to focus on improving and expanding efforts devoted to keeping teenage drivers safe. Parents play an important role in influencing their teens’ driving behavior, and the good news is that they can use their status as role models to help their offspring make safe and sensible behind-the-wheel choices. By outlining clear rules and expectations, continuing to go on drives with their teenagers, taking advantage of advanced drivers ed classes, and rewarding responsible decisions, parents can help their adolescents develop the driving and decision-making skills necessary to becoming safe drivers for life.
DriveSafe Is Committed to Keeping Teen Drivers Safe!
The sentiment of National Teen Driver Safety Week is something that DriveSafe incorporates into our daily mission. As Colorado’s largest and most trusted driving school, DriveSafe’s curriculum goes well beyond the Colorado DMV’s requirements. Our comprehensive and engaging approach to drivers ed has helped thousands of students in our Colorado community learn how to skillfully operate a vehicle as well as make sound decisions while in the driver’s seat. Driver safety is our number one priority, and between our traditional drivers education courses, our defensive driving class options, and our expertly taught driving lessons, we are able to help with a variety of behind-the-wheel goals. Get in touch today with any questions, or sign up for one of our drivers ed courses today. We are here to help!