Teach Your Teen To Drive Safely

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It’s a scary time as a parent when your child turns 16. That’s right: driving age. Teens can’t wait to get behind the wheel, while the very thought terrifies moms and dads everywhere. There’s no denying that cars can be dangerous, especially for new and inexperienced drivers. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety administration, motor vehicle crashes remain the leading cause of death for teens.  That’s why it’s vital to communicate with your teen about the importance of safe driving.

The Problem

Communicating with your teen effectively is not always an easy task. Trust us, we know. New research commissioned by Ford Motor Company shows there is a major divide in the views and behaviors of parents and children in regards to driving and what would make new drivers more successful. The survey shows that 77% of tweens and 55% of teens look to their parents for the most advice or guidance on safe driving practices. But it also shows that 82% of teens and 81% of tweens have witnessed their parents drive while distracted. 41% were using a mobile phone, 60% were eating or drinking, and 30% were distracted by grooming or talking- not good numbers! 

Ford asked both parents and teens what they thought would be most helpful in keeping new drivers safe. The responses were very different. 25% of parents said more comprehensive driving education programs, 22% said new laws to reduce distractions while driving, and 18% said increasing the minimum age for obtaining a license. However, 59% of teens said they would benefit most from hearing personal experiences from their parents, 30% said new technologies to allow them to talk hands-free, and 28% said supplementary education. Parents, keep these numbers in mind when you’re teaching your child how to drive. 

Expert Advice

Dr. Charles Sophy, a family communications specialist, offers parents some great tips based on the differences noted in the survey on how to talk to your young driver about safety.  Dr. Sophy says it’s important to allow your teen to participate in the discussion about safe driving- don’t just lecture.

Tip 1

Be confident and educated in your own driving skills. Review the rules and regulations before you start teaching your children.

Tip 2

Set a good example! “Do as I say and as I do,” Dr. Sophy says.

Tip 3

Educate your child. Share statistics about driving mishaps with your children. They need to understand how high the stakes are. As we said before, driving is dangerous.

Tip 4

Teens can earn parents’ trust. (Parents- let them!). Teens must be responsible and demonstrate safe driving regularly, for example by taking parents out for a drive.

Tip 5

Safe driving can be fun! Have an ongoing conversation about expectations and safety. Set rules on vehicle safety features, like max speed and radio volume.  Teens need to learn that fun has absolutely nothing to do with recklessness or taking risks. Dr. Sophy also suggests carving out a contract between you and your teen to outline expectations clearly.

 

Remember to maintain your role as a parent during the learning process, but to be sure to listen to your child. Learning to drive is an important step in your teen’s life. Teach them to be safe, and you might just have a little fun!

Statistics provided by the 2011 Ford Safe Driving Survey

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