There are many opportunities for teachable moments when parents ride with their teens. The driving environment often includes complex situations such as left turns, passing on two-lane roads, driving at night and scanning roads for pedestrians, cyclists and other motorists. Coaching teens as they learn to drive is incredibly important, especially since teens cite their parents as having the most influence over their own driving behaviors. Since today is national Parents as Teachers Day, parents should consider their role and how their involvement shapes the kind of drivers their teens become.
Inexperience is the leading factor in teen crashes. While distractions such as cell phones and teen passengers increase teen drivers’ risk of crashing, teens crash most often because they lack the refined skills necessary for handling complex driving situations. There is no better way for teens to gain necessary experience than to have their parents ride with them and coach them through various challenges. Parents can offer advice on how to handle different scenarios, and they can tweak certain behaviors based on what they see in their teens’ driving habits.
Coaching doesn’t just include verbal advice, either. Parents must set positive examples for their teens. While parents are behind the wheel, they should refrain from using cell phones – handheld or hands-free – and make sure seat belts are worn by every occupant on every trip.
Learning to drive is an ongoing process, and the teachable moments do not stop when a teen receives a full license. Remaining vigilant and helping your teen become a safe driver ensures our roads are safer for everyone.
On Parents as Teachers Day, take an extra ride with your teen, even if he or she now has an unrestricted license. It could help your teen brush up on skills, help you identify and correct any bad habits he or she has developed and reinforce confidence in his or her abilities.