As a parent you’ve always done all you can to keep your children safe. But once they’ve passed their official driving test their safety is out of your hands, right? Wrong! It is now more important than ever that you do all you can to influence his/her attitude and play an active role in helping your teenager to become a safe and responsible driver for life.
Did you know?
Although figures vary in different countries, it is believed that around 90% of all crashes involve human error.
It is therefore crucial that as a parent you do all you can to ensure your teenager has the correct ATTITUDE to driving.
Set an example
There is no better education than a teenager seeing his/her parents driving safely. It is human nature that we learn by example so don’t ever allow your standards to slip in front of your teen. It goes without saying that you should drive in a courteous manner at all times and never let your emotions get the better of you – but knowing your teen will learn from the way you behave is an added incentive!
Take an interest
Right from the moment your teen announces he/she wants to drive you should make every effort to show an interest and be involved in the learning process. It is important that your teen feels that driving is a positive activity and one that he/she can talk to you about. However, it is also important that your teen is aware that becoming a fully-qualified driver is a life-changing event – and one that needs to be taken seriously.
Refresh your own knowledge
It can be really encouraging for your teen if you also show an interest in the written aspects of learning to drive. But don’t make the mistake of saying ‘I didn’t know that’ and indicating to your teen that it’s acceptable to drive without knowing some of the rules. Instead, use the opportunity to refresh your own knowledge and come up with unusual ways of engaging with your teen. You might agree to ask them three questions during a day – perhaps one by text, one by email and another in person in the evening. Whicher way you choose simply showing an interest will encourage your teen to further their understanding of road safety.
Choose a vehicle
At some point during your teen’s journey of learning to drive you will need to have a discussion about what type of car you are happy for your teenager to drive. It is important that you have input into this decision and do not give in to your teen’s pleas for an inappropriate set of wheels with an oversized engine. As well as considering cost you should do your research into the safety of vehicles. Think of things like how many doors the vehicle has (two doors could help to discourage too many passengers) and whether the model is likely to attract unwanted attention from other irresponsible young drivers looking for people to race with.
Make it clear what you expect from your teen once they have passed their official driving test. Never leave a new young driver to just ‘get on with it’! Have rules in place that explain what they must and must not do. Try to cover everything including wearing seatbelts, carrying passengers, driving at a safe speed, alcohol and drug use, mobile/ cell phone use, listening to loud music, areas in which they may/may not drive and times at which they are permitted to drive. It is a good idea to devise a written agreement/pledge which you both sign.
Once your teen is driving it is important that you keep reinforcing the road safety message. Many young people think that once they pass their driving test they know it all! But reminding them of the rules and pointing out the dangers of driving irresponsibly can help to keep them focused. You might choose to send them a link to the Teen Section of this website or share some of the stories you read on here about teenage drivers.
Be your teen’s personal rescue service
All too many accidents happen when young people make the wrong decisions – sometimes because of peer pressure or sometimes simply because of inexperience. Something that can really help is offering to rescue your teen whatever situation they find themselves in. They may have gone to a party and not planned to drink any alcohol but eventually succumbed to pressure. Think about it: would you rather they drive themselves home, get a lift with someone else who has been drinking or call you to rescue them?