For most teens, there will come a day when they grasp the steering wheel and take on a new wave of responsibility. This responsibility can be exciting, but also dangerous. It’s crucial to instill responsible driving habits in your child the moment they start learning to operate a car. To help you out, we’ve outlined several helpful beginner-driver tips below.
1. Understand Road Rules
Before a teen starts driving, it’s crucial they know the rules of the road like the back of their hands. This will prevent simple accidents that could be caused by something as basic as running a red light.
You may want to schedule study sessions where you go over the DMV’s Driver’s Handbook to make sure your teen is knowledgeable.
2. Practice on Familiar Roads
When your teen first gets started, it isn’t a good idea to let them loose on the most trafficked highways. Instead, try to start them off easy. Have them drive on familiar roads with low-traffic until it becomes second nature.
If they’re even tentative about driving on familiar roads, you can first take them to an empty parking lot. Let them get used to moving the car slowly before they drive faster.
3. Always Wear Your Seatbelt
It should be obvious, but it’s common for teens to skip wearing their seatbelt. This is a mistake that could prove potentially fatal. After all, thousands of people die from car accidents as a result of not wearing their seatbelt every year.
4. Don’t Overthink Things
While you want to be aware of the rules of the road, you don’t want to overthink every little thing you do while you’re driving. It’s easy to get self-conscious about your driving when you first get started.
Teens might feel like they’re inconveniencing others by driving slow, for example. But when you’re too in your head, it can cause accidents.
To help your teen drive at-ease, you may want to get a bumper sticker that indicates there is a student driver behind the wheel of your car.
5. Focus on the Road
The more distraction-free your teen is, the safer they will be while they’re behind the wheel. Make sure they aren’t listening to the radio, talking too much, eating or anything else that could distract them.
This is a good rule of thumb especially when someone starts driving, but also after they’re experienced. Distractions cause accidents. Focused, mindful driving keeps you safe.
6. Never Tailgate
Following the car in front of you too closely is dangerous. It can become more difficult to see the road ahead, and gives you less time to brake when the car in front of you comes to an abrupt halt.
This could result in rear-end accidents and injuries for all involved. A good rule of thumb is to leave the car in front of you with at least three seconds of breathing room. That gives you more time to react keeps everyone on the road driving safe.
If you’re being tailgated by someone else, you may want to move lanes, allowing the driver behind you to pass. To avoid tailgaters in the first place, using the right lane of traffic typically allows you to avoid those driving in a rush.
7. Never Drive Under the Influence
One of the easiest ways to put your life in danger on the road is to drive while under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Americans die every day from drunk driving. This is because while under the influence, your reaction time and decision-making abilities can be negatively impacted.
Always stay sober when you’re on the road. If you’ve had anything to drink, don’t drive home. Have a friend drive you, or call for an Uber. Additionally, if one of your friends is under the influence, don’t let them drive. Be a good friend and do not give them their keys. You could very well save their life by doing so.
8. Keep It Smooth
When you brake abruptly, it can make it more difficult for other drivers to react. This may result in accidents. Even if it doesn’t result in disaster, braking abruptly can cause jerking motions that make your passengers uncomfortable. Additionally, accelerating too abruptly can stress your engine.
For that reason, it’s important to accelerate and brake smoothly. To do so, you’ll want to watch your speed. The faster you’re driving, the more force it will take to bring you to a stop. So if you’re flooring it at max speed and a stop sign is coming up, your brake can be abrupt and dangerous.
Instead, when you know you’re going to have to stop, slow down gradually as you approach the stop sign or red light. Then feather down on the brake ahead of time so you come to a smooth stop.
9. Maintain Your Car
Skipping out on car maintenance can be disastrous. It can make it more dangerous to drive, and cost more for you in the long run. When you wait to get your car fixed until a problem is out of control, then it’s likely going to be much more expensive than if you nipped the problem in the bud early on.
It can be nerve-racking when your child first gets behind the wheel of a vehicle. But when you practice instilling responsible driving tips, your child becomes more likely to stay safe.