1. Practice what you preach. “Do as I say and not as I do” does not work. If you want your teen to stop at stop signs, obey the speed laws, not use their cell phones while driving and not participate in road rage, neither should you. Your behavior will be far more influential than the techniques you teach.
2. Be proactive. Well before your teen gets behind the wheel, you should be explaining healthy choices behind the wheel. Point out good and bad driving habits. Show them the joy of patience when you yield to a pedestrian with a kind wave, or stop at the intersection well before the red light. Prior to ever getting behind the wheel, your teen should be pointing out good and bad driving habits of others while you drive around town.
3. Lay out the ground rules. As the parent, you know what is best for your child. Not everyone who turns 16 is ready to drive. Make sure your teen is truly ready prior to taking DMV’s test. Make sure your teen understands your family rules for speed limits, road restrictions, radius limits, and other rules before they are allowed to start the car.
4. Practice, practice, practice. Driving around town is great, but an emphasis on basic driving skills will always lead to a well-rounded, safe driver. Practice starting, stopping, and backing up. These basic skills will help make the basics of driving second nature, allowing more time for your teen driver to scan the road for hazards.
5. Be a patient teacher. Loud noises, large gestures, and passenger interference can all be counterproductive, and dangerous for new drivers. If your teen is making mistakes and they need further instruction, have them safely pull to the side of the road where the two of you can calmly speak about the learning point.
6. Know where you are going. Teach your teen driver to map their route. This will keep distractions to a minimum and teach your teen to have a prepared trip free of distractions.
7. Provide them a plan for an emergency. What do they do if they are in an accident? What if their tire goes flat? Having answers to these and other emergency procedures will help your teen be safe and confident in the event of an emergency. Having a plan will also provide you with peace of mind.
8. Positive reinforcement works. Praise will boost your teen’s confidence and cement good driving habits.
9. Buckle up. Insist your teen, and any other person that rides in their car, properly wears their seatbelt. Wearing a seatbelt improperly is almost as bad as not wearing the seatbelt at all.
www.teenesteem.org . 925-855-9941 . PO BOX 966 Danville, CA 94526