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May is Global Youth Traffic Safety Month and an excellent time for parents of teen drivers to ask themselves, “How can I be a better driving coach to my teen?”
We know that parents are the No. 1 influence on teen driving habits, and with car crashes still the leading cause of death for teens, this means parents have a huge opportunity to keep them safe. The key is being a good driving coach to your teen. Here are three steps you can take this month to improve your coaching.
1. Understand that Your Teen Never Stops Learning from You
During driving lessons, you offer plenty of tips, corrections and advice to your teen driver, but those aren’t the only things they will learn from you. Teens are quick to pick up the driving habits of their parents, so think about the impact you’re having when you drive with your teen. Do you get impatient in traffic or do you let other drivers merge? Do you engage with distractions? Do you take good care of your car? Being a good coach is about more than the lessons you offer, it also includes the example you set. This month, give some thought to the less obvious actions you take behind the wheel and how they might be rubbing off on your teen.
2. Know When to Grant Privileges and When to Set Limits
Another aspect of coaching is knowing which responsibilities your teen can handle and which they aren’t yet ready for. Your teen driver may be quick to ask for a later driving curfew or to be able to drive around with friends, but it is up to you to understand the associated risks and determine when it is safe to grant your teen new driving privileges. The best way they can show they are ready is to show they can handle the rules they already have. Our New Driver Deal can be especially helpful in these situations.
3. Ask Your Teen to Spot the Hazard
One of the most important tasks for driving safely is always scanning the road for hazards, but this can be a difficult skill to master. Inexperienced teen drivers may not always know where to look for possible dangers on the road, or understand how quickly something can go from harmless to hazard. You can help your teen practice by making this into a game behind the wheel. Whether you or your teen is driving, safely challenge each other to spot the hazards around you and see who has the better eye for danger. This is a great way to get your teen thinking about potential hazards and learn to anticipate them, rather than wait to react too late.
Just like on a field or court, a good coach is crucial to have behind the wheel. If you want to make a difference for your teen this month, and help ensure they stay safe on the road, try out these tips and let us know what works best for you. It doesn’t take much to make a big difference for your teen.
DriveitHOME™ is an initiative of the National Safety Council, designed by and for parents of newly licensed teen drivers. DriveitHOME™ offers free resources parents can use to help their teen build experience to become safer drivers.
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