Teaching Your Teen Safe Driving Before They Get Behind the Wheel

Posted on: February 11, 2020

Teaching Teen Safe Driving

For many parents, the idea of their teen driving for the first time is terrifying. It seems like just yesterday you were worried about your child’s first steps but now there’s another milestone to cross. Since you can’t stop your child from growing up, it is important to at least teach your teen safe driving techniques when the time comes.

Getting Ready for Your Teen’s First Driving Lesson

If you haven’t gotten behind the wheel with your child yet, it’s time to prepare. You should remember a few simple rules if you want to teach your teen smart driving techniques.

Make a Plan

Before you take your teen out for their first drive, plan your route. You need to know if you will be driving through crowded parking lots or busy on-ramps. By planning in advance, you can help your teen spot dangers ahead of time.

Let Your Teen Lead

Some teens are excited to start driving and can’t wait to get behind the wheel, but this isn’t always the case. If your son or daughter isn’t ready yet, don’t force them into the driver’s seat. Once they are ready, you can teach your teen driving skills and move forward with both of you being prepared.

Use Questions

It’s highly unlikely your teen will be a perfect driver right away. Instead of criticizing them for their performance, use questions to redirect their driving habits. A question helps the teen think critically and learn from their mistakes much faster than simply being told what to do.

A few examples include:

  • What could you have done differently?
  • How can you be more prepared next time?
  • Do you see the right thing to do now?

Alert sand Safe Driving for Teens

Stay Alert

Your teen is new to driving, so they won’t always know what to watch out for. You should be precise with your directions and pay attention to your surroundings.

Be prepared to instruct them but also allow them to recognize distractions and learn how to be a defensive driver as well.

Be Calm

Anyone who has ever been in a car with a new driver knows how hard it is to stay relaxed. While it might seem impossible, you’ll need to avoid becoming upset or talking down to your teen.

They will likely make mistakes the first time, and it will only become harder for you to teach a teen safe driving if they are anxious or afraid of you getting upset.

Give Your Teen a Tour of the Vehicle

One of the first things you should do as you teach your teen smart driving tips is to give them a tour of the vehicle. Your teen should understand how all of the safety features in your vehicle work such as the:

  • Steering wheel adjustment
  • Wipers
  • Mirrors and seat adjustment
  • Dashboard controls
  • Turn signals
  • Headlights
  • Parking brake
  • Warning indicator lights on the dashboard
  • Emergency lights
  • Gas and brake pedals
  • Turning the engine on and off
  • Airbags and other safety features

Tips for Teaching Teen Safe Driving

Top Tips for Safe Driving

As you learn how to teach a teen to drive, it’s important to set a good example. Your teen will copy everything you do, so don’t be surprised when you see them repeat your mistakes as well.

To get started on teaching your teen safe driving techniques, go to a clear parking lot. It’ll be safer for your teen to practice in an empty space with no other cars or traffic around. Before you go out on the open road, give your teenager plenty of time to practice turning, starting, and stopping.

After your teen is proficient in a parking lot, you can then try having them drive on a quiet residential road. As they gradually improve, you can bring them to busier service streets, freeways, and other commute roads. In the beginning, your teen should stick to driving in good weather during the daytime and then gradually learn proper practices in bad weather like snow, rain, and night driving.

Another tip for learning how to teach a teen to drive is to limit how long your sessions are. Stick to 15 to 20-minute sessions at first. As your teen becomes more confident, you can have them drive for longer periods over greater distances.

Dealing With Distracted Drivers

The issue of distracted driving is one of the biggest contributors to accidents across the country. Why is distracted driving a problem, especially for teen drivers? Part of the issue is the teen’s inexperience. Cell phones and mobile devices are also a major problem.

When you are distracted, you have years of experience to fall back on. Your mind still notices the flash of tail lights or a car about to turn, and you hit the brakes in time. Teens don’t have this experience or instinct, so they have to rely on their ability to notice changes in their surroundings with enough time to react.

An estimated 58% of teen crashes are caused by distracted drivers. You can prevent this issue by teaching your teen to put away their mobile devices whenever they drive and to keep their attention on the road at all times.

Skills Checklist for New Drivers

During your lessons, there are a few teen driving skills you need to include. Start by teaching your teen techniques like how to brake smoothly and use turn signals. Your teenager should also learn how to safely slow down for a turn and gradually accelerate out of a turn.

With your lessons, focus on teaching your teen safe driving habits like following other vehicles at a safe distance. You should talk to them about driving in a school zone, using turning lanes, and determining who has the right of way. In addition, your teen will need to practice merging with traffic and changing lanes.

If you want to protect your teenager, show them how to scan the road ahead and identify hazards. As you teach your teen safe driving habits, you should also educate them about sharing the road with pedestrians and reacting to emergency vehicles.

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Safe Driving Habits Save Lives

Taking your teenager driving doesn’t have to be a terrifying experience. You can start by teaching your teen safe driving techniques before they ever get behind the wheel. By teaching them these practices, you can keep them safe whether you are in the vehicle or not.

Want to learn more safe driving tips you can share with your new teen driver? Check out the Todd’s Auto Body blog for great ways to stay safe on the road.

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