According to the National Safety Council, the first 12 months after teenagers receive their driver’s licenses can be the most dangerous period of their young lives. During this period, a teen is three times more likely to be in a collision than someone 20 years or older. Fortunately, there are things you as a parent can do with and for your teen to help him become a safe driver.
Spend Hours Practicing
Not surprisingly, the more practice a teen can get with a parent in the vehicle, the better. According to USA Today, parents should try to spend at least 50 hours driving with their children before allowing them to hit the road solo. USA Today also councils parents to focus on important driving skills such as looking for possible hazards, rather than concentrating on less important driving behaviors like learning how to parallel park.
Educate Your Teen
The more your teen understands about the rules of the road the better. For example, does your teen driver know when it’s OK to pass a bus if it has its stop sign out and red flashing lights on? Or who has the right of way at a four-way stop when vehicles arrive simultaneously? If not, have him take some free interactive practice driving tests. According to Scholastic, interactive activities can keep your student more engaged than passive learning tools, such as a written DMV handbook.
Have Your Teen Sign a Contract
Driving is a privilege and not a right, so your child should be given clear directives as to what he can and cannot do while on the road. Start your contract by listing the things you won’t tolerate, such as drinking or texting while driving. Then add the rules that are important in your household. These may include keeping the car clean, maintaining a certain GPA or earning enough money to pay for gas. Once your contract is ready, go over it with your child and have him sign it. If you would prefer, you can use a contract provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Drive by Example
Do you swear at other drivers and make aggressive moves while driving? Or worse, do you text or check your Facebook? Your teens are always watching you and if they witness you using poor judgment while driving, they’re more than likely to follow suit. Unfortunately, 77 percent of teens in a recent AT&T survey claimed that they see adults text and drive all the time.
There Are Apps for That
A number of apps today can help keep your child safer on the road. For example, when installed on your child’s phone, the Canary app can send you a notification if your teen is speeding or using the phone while driving. With Canary, you can also set up designated areas that are off limits to your teen, and if your driver should wander into those areas, this app will send you an alert. Canary is available for both the iPhone and Android platforms.