McMenamin Safe Drivers: Teaching Teens How to Drive

McMenamin Safe Drivers- Teaching Teens How to Drive

Teaching teens how to drive in Port Angeles, Port Townsend, Sequim, and everywhere throughout Washington can be extremely challenging.  It may be difficult to teach your teen how to be a safe driver; however, it is one of the most important things you can do to keep your child safe from harm. Below are helpful tips for teaching teens how to be safe drivers while retaining most of your sanity in the process.

Teach By Example

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This may be one of the most difficult and challenging tips that we offer to parents teaching their teens to drive because we are all guilty of some type of dangerous driving habit.

You must teach by example even before your child is ready to get behind the wheel of a vehicle. Children pay much more attention to the adults around them than the adults notice. From a very early age, your child watches how you drive. Your child sits in the back seat watching everything you do and listening to everything you say, even when you think he is watching his favorite Disney video. This become even more of an issue as your child grows older.

If your child sees you texting while driving, talking on your cell phone, playing with the radio controls, speeding, or driving aggressively, your child will learn these dangerous driving habits even before he or she gets a learner’s permit. Every time you are in the car with your child, drive in the manner you want your child to drive. Teaching by example is one of the most effective forms of teaching.

Act As Your Teen’s Copilot

The second most effective way to teach your teen to driver is to be in the car with your teen driver as much as possible. You can influence your teen’s driving habits by riding with him or her to gently correct bad driving habits and mistakes before mistakes cause a tragic vehicle accident. Below are tips that help you be an effective copilot.

  • Ride in the passenger side with another adult driver to experience how things look from the passenger side of the vehicle. This will help you refrain from yelling “You are about to hit the mailbox” even though your child is nowhere near the mailbox — the mailbox just looks closer now that you are in the passenger seat.
  • Have someone treat you as a “new driver.” Someone constantly barking orders at you (i.e. turn left, put on the brakes, pull in there, etc.) can become extremely annoying. It is also very nerve-racking to have someone watching and criticizing your every move. Being in the role of a “new driver” will help you understand how your child feels so that you can adjust how you instruct your child to be most effective.
  • Remain alert at all times. Most parents are on hyper-alert when they are teaching their teen to drive — fear of crashing will do that to you. However, as you begin to relax, the temptation to check email, text messages, or do other things may be appealing (it is nice to just ride while someone else does the hard work). However, you must refrain from doing anything that distracts you from our primary goal — teaching your child to be a safe driver.
  • Practice as often as possible. You must make time for your teen to practice driving. With practice, you can help your teen learn to make good decisions and judgments about how to handle a variety of driving situations rather than relying on trial and error.
  • Remain calm. This may be the most difficult feat for you to accomplish. Try not to raise your voice, have an accusatory attitude, or use derogatory words. Gently and lovingly correct driving mistakes without becoming frustrated (you may correct the same mistake dozens of times). Your teen driver is nervous whether he or she shows it. If you remain calm, it will help your child remain calm and encourage him or her to listen more to what you have to say.

Expose Your Teen Driver To A Variety Of Driving Conditions

It is a good idea to begin driving lessons in an abandoned parking lot or on an approved driving course. You want to be far away from other drivers as your teen driver learns how to maneuver and handle the vehicle before moving the lessons onto the road. However, once your teen is driving in the “real world,” you must teach your teen how to drive in a variety of situations.

The sun will not always be bright and shiny when your teen is driving. As your teen driver gains more experience, gradually introduce him or her to other driving conditions including weather conditions, locations, road conditions, and times of day. It is much different driving in the pouring rain than it is driving in clear whether. It is also much different driving around town than driving on an interstate. By introducing new driving situations while you are with your child, you can continue to instruct your child on how to drive so he or she will be comfortable and safe when driving in these situations without you.

Attend Driver’s Education With Your Child

This may mortify your child; however, you need to know what your child is being taught in driver-education training. If the thought of having you in the room with him or her sends your child into a meltdown, ask the instructor if you can quietly audit another class. You may learn some new things and you will also be able to mirror your instruction so that your child does not become confused about the safest way to operate a vehicle.

Watch PSAs Together

Many companies have produced Public Service Announcements (PSAs) specifically targeted to teen drivers. Do not sit your teen down to watch these videos alone — watch the PSAs with your child then have a meaningful conversation by asking your teen driver specific questions about the situations in the video. Discussing the best way to handle these situations can prepare your teen driver in the event he or she encounters a similar dilemma.
Resources for Teen Driver PSAs include:

  • Impact Teen Drivers
  • Toyota Teen Driver 365
  • TMA Bucks
  • The National Road Safety Foundation

Use Online Resources

There are numerous reputable websites that provide useful information about teaching teens to drive safely. Take the time to research the resources and information available so that you can help your teen to become a safe driver.

  • The National Road Safety Foundation
  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
  • Washington State Department of Licensing
  • Washington’s Parent Supervised Driving Program
  • Teen Smart

A Washington Accident Law Firm That Cares

The personal injury attorneys of McMenamin & McMenamin care about you and your child’s driving education. We want teen drivers throughout Washington to learn to drive safely so they can prevent tragic car crashes. Unfortunately, car accidents still happen regardless of how safe the driver may be.

If you or your child is injured in an automobile accident, you need an experienced, compassionate, and skilled car accident attorney to ensure your right to receive compensation is protected.  Contact McMenamin & McMenamin at 360-452-9242 for a free legal consultation.

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