Seeing kids reach driving age can be a cause of anxiety for many parents. Many moms and dads fear that their kids will be in a car crash. Given the fact that newly licensed teens are more likely to get in accidents than any other age range (due to their inexperience and a higher likelihood to take risks), this fear is understandable. That said, parents can do a lot to prepare their teens to become safe drivers.
Keep the following steps in mind and you will be able to rest easy knowing that you have prepared your teen for whatever may come on the road.
Teach Them Maintenance, Not Just Driving
One of the best things you can do to ensure your child knows how to stay safe behind the wheel is to practice with them. As soon as they get their learner’s permit, start getting in hours. They will gain confidence and a better understanding of how to react quickly on the road because, unfortunately, driver education courses alone do not lead to a decrease in accidents. An academic study published in 2021 showed that there was no evidence that these courses are effective in reducing accidents among new drivers, which is why it is so important that you help your teens get more behind-the-wheel practice with you to become a safe driver.
In addition to actual driving, take the time to teach them basic car maintenance. If they break down at the side of the road, they should know what to do. Teach them essentials, such as how to change the oil, change spark plugs, and change a tire.
Get Them a Safe Car
Even if you are confident in your teen’s driving abilities, it can be comforting to know that they are in a safe car — just in case something does happen when they’re behind the wheel. Every year, rankings are published based on crash tests to flag the safest cars on the market. Kelly Blue Book offers a convenient list of cars and features that have all ranked well in terms of safety and start at about $20,000.
Invest in Comprehensive Insurance
Protect your automobile investment by investing in a top-quality insurance plan for your new driver. Note that insurers will charge higher rates for teens since they pose the largest risk in terms of being accident-prone. Other factors that impact insurance costs include your location and your teen’s gender (boys are more expensive to insure than girls).
By investing in a safe car, you can actually help keep premiums lower. Some companies will also take signs that a teen is responsible, such as good grades or good credit, into account — and offer lower rates accordingly. Shop around and assess your options before settling on a plan.
Educate Teens About Common Driving Mistakes
When it comes to teaching kids to drive safely, it’s not just about showing them what to do — it’s also about warning them what not to do. Address common driving mistakes with your teenager head-on. For instance, novice drivers are more prone to tailgating (driving too closely to the car in front of them) and overcompensating with the steering wheel if they drift too far to one side of the road, sharply jerking in the opposite direction.
One common concern that parents must address with their kids is texting while driving. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every day, some 1,000 people are injured in crashes because of distracted driving. Set a strict no-texting-while-driving rule, and install hands-free technology to prevent your teen from using their phone screens. Other tools like phone holders that attach via suction cup to the dash or windshield, as well as bases that clasp to an air vent, will secure their phone and avoid the clumsy reach for a falling phone (another distraction of habit).
Although it’s not an on-road issue, you should address car theft with your new driver, too. Enforce the need to lock up the car and close the windows completely when parked, and to clear out anything visible. Piles of clothes, loose change, or paper can make a thief think there might be something of value buried underneath. Even suction cup marks left by smartphone and GPS device holders can tempt would-be thieves.
Prepare your teens to become safe drivers: teach your teens about safe driving, car maintenance, and avoiding car theft before they hit the road by themselves. They will be better prepared for whatever may come their way — while you can breathe a sigh of relief and enjoy increased peace of mind. The extra effort you put into getting them ready will be good for both you and your child.