As parents, we worry about the safety of our children and wonder what our role is in keeping our new drivers safe. Consider that three out of four teens say their parents would be the best influence in getting them to drive safely.
The following tips will guide you as you help your teen become a safe driver.
Practice what you preach - use safe driving behaviors for your child to model.
There are plenty of "teachable moments" for you to share each time you ride in the car together:
The single most important factor in developing a safe driver is practice. It is recommended to devote at least 50 hours to teaching your teen to drive."Read more."
You don't need to have professional experience to teach your teenager to drive. It is more important for you to be there as a guide as he or she practices. You can monitor your son or daughter's progress, gradually moving on to more complex driving situations when he or she is ready.
If you or your child do not feel comfortable starting out on your own, consider some professional lessons to kick things off. You may even want to join your teen on the lesson to observe how the instructor teaches basic driving tasks.
Except for the first few hours devoted to helping your teen master the basics, it's best to practice in everyday situations. Have your teen drive with you everywhere you go together. These normal, day-to-day situations provide the variety needed to help your teen become a safe driver.×
You may want to use a Driving Practice Log to keep track weekly of how many hours you and your teen have driven together.You also may want to jot down skills practiced, those mastered, and new ones to work on. For an example of a driving observation sheet, click here. For a set by step practice driving guide, click here.
Driving is a privilege — not a right! All drivers have important legal responsibilities. The New Jersey driving manual is the best resource for understanding the laws and regulations you and your teen need to know. This manual is available online or at any motor vehicle location. For more information on the Graduated Driver License Program, click here.
In addition the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (NJMVC) offers a Parent's Guide to Teaching Teens Safe Driving.
To provide both you and your teen with a framework for setting and enforcing effective rules, it's a good idea to create a written Parent/Teen Driving Agreement. According to research, teens whose parents limit initial driving privileges (like driving at night or with other teenage passengers) are less likely to engage in risky driving, to get tickets, and have crashes.
To view samples of parent-teen agreements, click on these links: AAA, Allstate, Say Yes To Life, State Farm. Additionally, parent to parent and teen to teen contracts help create a network of support to keep teen drivers safe.
Your new driver has a lot to learn — and you play an important role in his or her education! Discuss these "key points" often to help your teen stay safe on the road.
Even under the best conditions, driving has its risks. When special situations or hazards arise, paying attention to driving and making good decisions become even more vital. Teach your teen to anticipate potential problems and how to respond. Teach your teen to keep a margin of safety around the vehicle, look for a way out and develop a plan of action to avoid crashes. Take this interactive challenge with your teen to practice avoiding road hazards.
You've practiced driving with your teen and you feel confident that he or she knows what they need to do to be a safe driver. But when it comes to the moment, and when they are with friends who may want them to make unsafe choices, it's harder for them tosaywhat they need to say anddowhat they need to do. Read more.
Teach them to "Find their Voice"; to speak up for what they know is safe and right.
When if comes to dealing with friends, the most important thing your teen can do is to think ahead. Will their friends expect them to do something unsafe in their car? If so, what are they going to say to them? How will they act? Spend some time role-playing or practicing different unsafe situations that they might encounter and developing a plan of action to get out of the situations safely.×
Considering teens in New Jersey are involved in a crash every nine minutes, safety needs to be a priority whenchoosing the car your teen will drive. Late model, mid and full size cars are often the best options. Be sure the car is equipped with air bags, electronic stability control and automatic breaking systems. To check the safety ratings of a car, please visit the NHTSA and IIHS. Avoid cars that have a sporty image, as they can encourage teens to speed.
It is important to keep a car in good working condition. Routine maintenance checks should be performed regularly. Click here for an overview of car maintenance. Road emergencies occur often, from getting a flat tire, to over heating an engine. If your car does break down, it is important to talk to your teen about what to do. Make sure the car is equipped with a roadside emergency kit, or consider a roadside emergency service.