Driving a huge responsibility! Teaching your teen to drive can be both scary and exciting but it’s important to take time and educate them on the seriousness of this milestone. It’s important for your teen to understand that the actions or inactions they take behind the wheel can lead to accidents that could end in serious injuries and damage or worse.
Distracted driving is one of the biggest causes of driving accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) over 3,000 people were killed in distracted driving accidents in 2020 alone. Teaching your teen about distracted driving and how to avoid it can help keep them and those around them safe on the road.
Distracted driving is any activity that draws your attention away from driving. This can include using a cell phone, eating, drinking, talking to passengers in your vehicle, changing the radio, and more. You can start to teach your teen about the dangers of distracted driving long before they start driving by having honest conversations and setting a good example.
Once your teen starts learning to drive, there are a few steps you can take to help them learn to avoid distracted driving:
• Enroll them in a safety driver course. This is a great way to help your teen learn the rules and laws of the road. Professional driving courses review every aspect of driving, including distracted driving, and are a great way to help prepare your teen.
• Set ground rules. Set clear expectations with your new driver about what is not allowed and offer incentives when they abide. For example, having no traffic tickers for an extended period of time may equal a movie night with friends or paying for a full tank of gas.
• Lay out clear consequences. If your teen breaks a rule or behaves recklessly behind the wheel, they should know what their consequences will be. Outside of legal consequences, you can set your own at home. Some examples include limiting driving hours, requiring your teen to pay for any damages or traffic fines they may have caused, community service, and even taking or retaking a defensive driving course.
Being patient with your teen driver can be difficult. You want them to protect them as much as possible and it can be an emotional time for everyone involved. Taking the time to have open, honest conversations and setting clear expectations can help them to understand how serious a responsibility driving is.
To learn more about distracted driving visit the NHTSA by visiting https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/distracted-driving.