4 Teen Driving Mistakes You Need to Know

teen driving mistakesTraffic 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:

  • DUI
  • 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.

Talk to me

Please spread the word to your parent friends so their teens can be safe, too. Click here to share this blog on Facebook. Thank you!

Mechanically Yours,

Audra

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Teaching a Teen to Drive: 8 Tips for Busy Parents

teaching your teen to drive

Image by State Farm via Flickr (the original was altered)

Kids grow up so fast. One day, you’re changing their diaper.

And before you know it, you’re handing them a set of car keys. Where did the time go?!

It’s scary to think about your teen driving for the first time. So many things could go wrong.

If you’re teaching a teen to drive, you need to know these eight tips.

1. Stay calm.

Teens are perceptive. If you feel anxious, they will notice. Try not to stress too much, because that will only make them more nervous. Take a few deep breathes to calm down when you feel stressed.

2. Be a good example.

Teens learn by example, so you better be a good one. If you run red lights, they will disobey traffic laws. If you drive too fast, they will break the speed limit. If you don’t focus on the road, they will text and drive.

3. Make a lesson plan.

Teens have short attention spans. That’s why I recommend starting with quick and simple sessions. You could start with something as basic as parking the car in an empty lot. You can move on to more complex stuff as you go.

4. Deconstruct driving.

Imagine you’re pulling out of a driveway. This task feels effortless now. It’s actually really complicated. You have to disengage the parking break, put the car in reverse, look out for pedestrians, gently push the gas pedal, and turn the steering wheel. Explain this process step-by-step.

5. Help them stay focused.

Teens are super distracted. They are used to checking their cellphones constantly. Don’t let them do that when they drive. Watch their eyes. Are they on the road? If not, remind them to stay alert. Your teen needs to learn how to anticipate accidents. That can’t happen when their mind is elsewhere.

6. Use positive reinforcement.

Teens can be a bit touchy. If you criticize them, they will get defensive and shut down. At that point, they won’t hear anything you have to say. Don’t make them feel bad for what they did wrong. It’s better to focus on what they did right. If you compliment safe driving techniques, they will turn into habits that stick.

7. Point out potential hazards.

Teens feel invincible. In their mind, nothing can go wrong. That’s not the case on the road. Accidents happen. Make sure they’re aware of common hazards. In downtown areas, ask them to scan the road for pedestrians. On the interstate, ask them to watch a vehicle’s brake-lights so they’ll be ready for sudden stops.

8. Get outside of your comfort zone.

Most parents make a dangerous mistake. They only ask their teen to drive in daylight. They only travel on familiar roads. That’s a good way to start, but you need to be more thorough. Let your teen drive in rain, snow, darkness, and big city traffic.Your teen needs to be prepared for every driving challenge they might encounter.

Talk to me.

Are you teaching a teen to drive? If so, how is it going? Are there any tips that you would add to this list? Tell us in the comments. Click here to share this blog on Facebook so your friends can raise a safe teen driver like you.

Mechanically Yours,

Audra

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Ask Audra: Should You Buy a Car for Your Teenager?

buy car for teenagerShould you buy a car for your teenager? Tough question. I know this isn’t what you want to hear, but it depends.

First and foremost to any driver is that you know how to open the hood!

You’ve got three options. Let’s take a look at each one.

Option A: Buy a car for your child and cover all of the cost.

If reliability is your primary concern, option A might be your best bet. This puts you in control. Teenagers put style before safety. If left to their own devices, they will probably buy the “cool” car. If it’s your money on the line, you have the power to make the unpopular (but smart) decision.

The downside? It’s easy to mistreat something you didn’t pay for. Teenagers aren’t known for being grateful. They might even be mad, because they didn’t get the car they wanted. That’s 100% illogical (they got a free car!), but it’s often the case. Also, this doesn’t teach your child how to manage money. Reality will catch up with them sooner or later.

Option B: Share the family car with your child and split the cost.

If cost is your primary concern, option B might be your best bet. This is a gentle transition into owning a vehicle. Make sure your teen understands what costs they are responsible for. Ask them to pay for gas and oil changes at minimum. You can cover tire changes and other auto expenses until they save a decent amount of money.

The downside? The full cost of vehicle ownership can still come as a shock. Every time you get a repair, take your teen to the mechanic so they can see exactly how much you’re paying to maintain the vehicle. Even better, teach them about the importance of having a “car jar” to  fund emergency and maintenance services. If you don’t teach them now, they will come begging for money later.

Option C: Let your child buy their own car and cover none of the cost.

If personal growth is your primary concern, option C might be your best bet. This is a brutal introduction to the real world. That said, your teenager might end up better off for it. They will get used to the responsibility that comes with owning a vehicle at a young age. And you better believe they will take very good care of that car!

The downside? Like I said, this is brutal. Most teenagers don’t have enough money to buy a good car. They would probably have to work a summer job. That could steal time and attention from studying. And they might get suckered into buying a car that isn’t safe or reliable if they are not taught how to care for their investment. If you choose to go this route, don’t let them go shopping without you.

Talk to me.

Do you plan to buy a car for your teenager? If so, are you going to cover the repair and maintenance costs? Why or why not? Tell us in the comments. Click here to share this blog on Facebook to invite your friends to the conversation.

Mechanically Yours,

Audra

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