Multiple agencies and experts have studied driving safety and teenagers. While readiness remains a uniquely individual trait, we’ve found that when youth exhibit certain behaviors indicating maturity and responsibility, then they are more likely to be safe and confident drivers. Because motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for young drivers, we work closely with parents and guardians to ensure their potential new driver is ready for the road.
An article from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identifies risk factors for teens drivers:
- Inexperience – Teens are less experienced in recognizing potentially dangerous situations.
- Nighttime and weekend driving – More crashes occur among teens on Friday, Saturday or Sunday, and fatal crashes are three times more likely at night.
- Not using seatbelts – Youth are inconsistent with wearing seatbelts
- Distracted Driving – Music, friends, texting—all can distract new drivers
- Speeding – Young drivers are more likely to speed and not leave sufficient space between cars in front of them.
- Driving under the influence – Whether alcohol or drugs, teens are more likely to get behind the wheel when under the influence.
So how do you know if your child is ready and can avoid these common pitfalls? One of the key components is making time to practice with your child so they have experience in all kinds of driving conditions. At DrivingMBA we have a Coaching Class to support you, and many resources to help you and your child practice together. We also require more hours on the road than many other schools because practice is crucial. Our simulators also offer teens a safe place to experience real-life hazards, so they will know how to respond when they are behind the wheel of a vehicle.
One of the topics we cover in our Coaching Class is the fact that most teens may have very few supervised driving hours yet still get their license. These teens pass a cursory test at the MVD and parents take the fact that they “passed the test at the MVD” as an indication that their child is ready to be a licensed solo driver.
Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. In many states around the country the requirements to get a license are abysmal. In Arizona, a parent can sign off that their student has had “30 hours” of supervised driving without providing any proof. Many teens have less than 30 hours because most parents do not require their teen to log their driving hours.
This creates a false sense of security for parents. In reality, these teens aren’t experienced enough to be safe and confident. The AAA Foundation released a study indicating that most teens are not exposed to diverse driving experiences before getting a license. Nearly 70 percent of parents reported that their driving experience with their teens was limited because of busy schedules for both parents and the teens.
Most of the driving done with the teens were routine trips over the same routes. That means they were not getting exposure to different types of traffic situations. Nearly 40 percent of these parents also allowed their teenager to get a license even though they were not comfortable with their teenagers’ ability to drive in certain situations. Click here to read the entire article.
As you assess your child’s readiness for driving and practice make sure your teen driver talk to your child about the dangers of distractions or driving under the influence. The more educated and aware your child is of potential dangers, the better prepared they will be. And practice with them! Practice, practice, practice. This is the key ingredient.
Maria Wojtczak is Chief Operating Officer at DrivingMBA. She has extensive knowledge in teen brain development and has pioneered many techniques used to teach students at DrivingMBA. Her passion for teaching and saving teen lives has made her a leader in the driver training industry.