Is part of your summer going to be spent in the front passenger seat of your car as your teen practices driving before their road test to get their driver’s license? If so, you may realize when comparing your own driving practices to what your teen is learning in driver’s ed that you’ve slipped into some unsafe driving habits over the years. At the very least, you’ve probably stopped taking some of the safety precautions you were taught when learning to drive.
Nonetheless, this additional practice time with parents outside of their official driver training is important to helping teens gain more experience before they’re on their own in the car. The statistics regarding teen crashes are grim. According to AAA’s Foundation for Traffic Safety, 16- and 17-year-old drivers have triple the chance of being killed in a crash compared to adults 30 and older. Fatality rates are twice as high for boys as girls. The main cause of these crashes is inexperience.
Most of us have some unpleasant memories of learning to drive with a parent beside us, and we swore that we would be better and more patient with our own teen drivers. But that’s easier said than done. However, parents can improve their behind-the-wheel practice time with their teens by remaining calm and recognizing that their child’s anxiety may cause even a mild correction to be perceived as yelling.
If you allow the tension between you and your teen to escalate or fester, you’re less likely to give constructive feedback, and they’re less likely to hear what you do tell them. Therefore, even if your teen becomes argumentative, try not to respond in kind. Help keep them focused on their driving.
Instead, give your teen plenty of positive reinforcement. Don’t just focus on the areas that still need work. Praise them for the things they’re doing well and areas where they’ve improved. We all perform better when we’re not constantly criticized.
Eventually, you’ll have to let your teen drive alone. Between their driver education program and your time behind the wheel with them, they should have some solid driving skills that will help keep them safe. However, if your teen is injured in a crash caused by a driver who’s not as careful, learn your options for seeking the compensation you need to help them heal.