Monday, October 3, 2011

Help Your Teen Drive Safely

When your teenager obtains his or her first driver's license or learner's permit, the whole experience can be a little nerve-wracking. Auto crashes are a leading cause of major injuries among people in this age group. Even when young people are committed to driving responsibly, simple inexperience can contribute to serious accidents. As a parent, it is only natural to be concerned.

Does this mean you should ban your kids from ever getting behind the wheel? Of course not. The only solution to beginners' mistakes is more experience and practice. Dangerous errors can be avoided with carefully supervised and informed training. This article will review some basic steps for helping your kids remain safe on the road.

Basic Tips for Parents

Teaching safety can be a slow process, but it is not hopeless. A few steps to take that can help you guide your children through the learning process include:

Refresh your knowledge. It is very difficult to teach a new skill when you do not have complete information yourself. A defensive driving course - whether in person or online - can help you practice the habits you want to pass on. Even sitting down with a copy of your state's drivers' manual to do a quick review can help.

Set a good example. Once you have brushed up your safety skills, demonstrate them to your kids. Even if they are too young to begin driving yet, they do observe you as you drive and will likely develop similar behaviors. One of the best ways to influence people's behavior is to practice what you preach.

Talk to your kids. If you simply list dos and don'ts, you may come across as just being controlling for no particular reason. A few minutes online can provide statistics and facts that demonstrate the importance of what you are trying to teach. Sometimes kids need clear, evidence-based explanations of the potential consequences of dangerous behaviors.

Reward good behavior. Studies have shown that in all contexts, punishment of bad behavior is not enough to instill good habits. You also need to notice and praise responsible actions. It will not only make your teaching more effective - it will be better for your relationship with your children.

Look for programs in your neighborhood. There are many private and government-funded organizations committed to fostering safe driving behaviors. Classes, manuals, and online videos can all help new drivers learn the skills they need. There are even programs for parents and teenagers to take together.

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