Nearly 282,000 teens between the ages of 16 and 19 were injured in car accidents in 2010. An additional 2,700 teens were killed during this time and much of this is the result of poor driving skills. Overall, teens are less likely to recognize a dangerous circumstance while on the road, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and also engage in more dangerous behavior than experienced drivers. It is up to parents to recognize the risks involved with teenage driving and to provide their children with the skills necessary to keep them safe on the road.
Take the driver out to practice as much as possible. The more time the driver has behind the wheel, the safer he becomes, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Lead by example. When driving with the person that you are trying to teach, obey the rules of the road. Wear your seat belt, don't talk on your cell phone and don't speed, suggests the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Take the driver to a parking lot and have her practice accelerating smoothly in a straight line. After she has accelerated, she can practice braking without having the car jerk in the process. This eliminates much of the pressure associated with driving in traffic, which can make learning to drive less stressful, according to KidsHealth. Once the driver is comfortable driving forward, have her drive backward in a smooth and controlled manner.
Design a driving route before each instruction period. When the driver is ready to drive on a street, it helps if he has an idea of where he is going and which skills you will have him practicing before you leave the driveway. Not only does this allow you to avoid heavy traffic, it ensures that he can concentrate on driving, not his direction, suggests HealthyChildren.org.
Increase the complexity of the lessons. As the driver learns how to operate in traffic, you can begin working on techniques such as left turns, changing lanes and merging, suggests KidsHealth. Work on each of these skills individually until the driver is comfortable. Giving too many instructions at once can cause confusion and panic.
Implement driving restrictions until the driver has enough experience. These restrictions should keep the driver off the road in dangerous conditions and provide consequences for dangerous driving, reports the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
Tips & Warnings
- Emphasize the importance of wearing a seat belt, not texting while driving and avoiding drugs and alcohol when driving.
- Encourage the driver to enroll in a defensive driving course to improve those skills.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Teen Drivers -- Fact Sheet
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Parents Are the Key
- KidsHealth: Helping Teens Learn to Drive
- HealthyChildren.org: Behind the Wheel -- Helping Teens Become Safe Drivers
- American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry: Helping Your Teen Become A Safe Driver
- Photo Credit Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images