The transition from a passenger seat to the driver’s seat can bring about a sense of newfound freedom and independence for teens, but it also carries significant responsibilities. Parents worry about their teens’ inexperience, distractions and the potential for risky behaviors behind the wheel.
Having conversations with teen drivers can help, but what can you say to get through to them?
Teen “know it all” mentality
One common concern among parents is the “know it all” mentality often exhibited by teenagers. Teens might think they already know everything there is to know about driving, leading to overconfidence and disregard for safety rules.
To compensate for this mindset, emphasize that driving is a continuous learning process and that even experienced drivers must stay vigilant and cautious.
Explaining safe driving significance
Instilling the significance of safe driving practices in teenagers is important. Parents can discuss the following points to drive this message home:
Consequences of recklessness. Teens need to grasp the real-life consequences of reckless driving, including injuries, fatalities and legal troubles. Sharing stories and statistics can help illustrate these risks.
Responsibility to passengers. Parents should remind teens that when they are behind the wheel, they have a responsibility not only to themselves but also to their passengers. A moment of distraction or risky behavior can affect everyone in the vehicle.
Respect for traffic laws: Reinforce that teens should obey traffic laws diligently. This not only keeps them safe but also prevents potential legal repercussions.
Avoiding distractions: Emphasize the dangers of distracted driving, especially the use of mobile phones while driving. Parents can set a positive example by practicing distraction-free driving themselves.
You should establish and enforce clear rules and expectations regarding driving behaviors, such as curfew times and passenger limits.
Many people learn better when they experience something firsthand. If your teen tends to hug sidewalks, find a safe place and ask them to stop. Both of you get out of the car and walk back several yards, then turn to look at the vehicle placement. When they see how close the car is to mailboxes and curbs, your teen may realize they need to adjust their lane perception.
Texting diverts attention from the road for at least five seconds. Ask your teen if they would drive with their eyes closed for that long; you can travel the length of a football field at 55 mph.
Develop strategies to show teens the dangers of risky driving behaviors rather than just telling them.
When teenagers start driving on their own, it is natural for parents to worry about their safety on the road. Do your best to make them understand that driving has significant responsibilities attached.