As parents, we often believe we know what teens want and what is best for them. Sometimes it is better to assume the opposite; sometimes our teens can teach us.
Working to change the culture of teen driving cannot happen without help from the teens themselves. They need to be big advocates for their own safety. Here are some tips for helping your teen driver take an active role in his or her own learning process:
- Teens wanted to be spoken to as adults, not as youth. Talk about driving safely with your teen the same way you would discuss it with an adult – tell them about personal observations and experiences. Doing so can help illustrate the importance of safe driving. This way, you are not preaching at your teen – you are speaking with them.
- Ask for their feedback. If you are driving with your teens, ask them afterward how they felt behind the wheel. Were they uncomfortable? Nervous? Did they feel prepared? Then ask if there is anything you could have done or said differently.
- Ask questions as your teen rides with you. When a situation arises on the roads, ask what decision he or she would make, and then explain why that tactic may be right or wrong.
- Share stories of those who have been involved in crashes. Personal stories add a human dimension to statistics. If your teen understands the impact crashes have on families and friends, he or she may be more inclined to exercise extra caution.
Remember, actions can speak louder than words. One of the most effective ways to ensure your teen understands what to do behind the wheel is to set a positive example. Stay off the phone while driving, wear a safety belt, use turn signals and avoid speeding.