Traffic accidents are the #1 cause of death for teens in the United States.
Smart parents can teach their teens how to stay safe on the road.
Here are the top four teen driving mistakes you need to know.
1. They drive too fast.
Remember when you were young? I bet you hated rules. I know I did.
Sometimes I did the exact opposite of what my parents asked just to spite them. That’s how youth works!
Expect your teen to break the speed limit. It’s hard to prevent this, because most teens are naturally rebellious. Here’s a tip that might help. Explain why the speed limit is necessary in words they will understand.
Use this script:
“I know it’s fun to drive fast. To be honest, I broke the speed limit when I was your age. That wasn’t smart, though. The speed limit is there to protect you. Sometimes drivers slam their brakes for no good reason. If you drive too fast, you won’t have enough time to react. I’m not trying to steal your fun. I just want you to be safe because I love you.”
2. They get distracted.
Distracted driving kills more teens than drunk driving. It’s amazing that a cellphone can be more dangerous than alcohol. Don’t let your child become a part of that statistic. First, you have to walk the walk. If you use your phone while driving, then your children won’t take your warnings seriously.
Second, be mindful of youth culture. Most teens expect texts to be answered immediately. If you just tell your teen not to text, they will probably ignore you. Instead, ask them to give their friends a heads-up. They could send a quick text that says: “Getting in the car. Might be slow to respond. I’ll text when I get home.” If there are several active chats, they could copy/paste that text and send it to everybody.
3. They take dumb risks.
Teenagers feel invincible. They naturally take more risks than adults. The human brain doesn’t fully mature until the early 20’s. That’s why young people are so impulsive. This can lead to bad driving decisions such as:
- Running traffic lights
- Not wearing a seat belt
- Not checking the blind spot
Don’t just tell them, “Don’t do that!” They will rebel. Make sure they understand why all of these decisions could end badly. You can use the script I shared in point #1 for inspiration.
4. They try to impress friends.
Peer pressure is a very real problem. Your teen might be a cautious driver alone. Add a friend to the mix and that could change in a hurry. This is especially true for boys, who are two times more likely to die in car accidents than girls. Girls aren’t innocent either. They also drive more recklessly with a male in the passenger seat. Here’s an interesting article about how gender affects the behavior of teen drivers.
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