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As a parent, you have the unenviable task of teaching your teen to be a safe, courteous driver. But have you ever seen such a thing?
As drivers, we are often rushed, selfish and unforgiving. We cut other drivers off, we try to catch lights and we have little patience for others’ mistakes. These behaviors are so common that you should have no problem pointing them out to your teen each time you go for a practice drive.
It is a thankless job to be a safe driver in these circumstances, when we all expect everyone to drive perfectly without holding ourselves to the same standard. So how do you convince your teen that driving responsibly is worth it?
The big reason, of course, is that it’s crucial to be a safe driver if you want to stay, well, safe. So many of us operate under the idea of ‘it will never happen to me’ that we end up putting ourselves and other road users at risk.
Driving defensively helps, but it can still be difficult to get your teen to take these risks seriously if they’ve never experienced a crash or near-miss. That’s when it can be helpful to point out that driving aggressively rarely pays off.
We’ve all witnessed it as a driver: someone doesn’t think you’re going fast enough, so they speed up, cut you off and drive away, only for you end up right behind them at the next red light. Or maybe on your way to work you slow down for a changing light while the person in the next lane speeds up to make it, then you pass them a few minutes later when they’re stopped by another intersection.
Plenty of us have probably been that aggressive driver and found it frustrating to have all of our ‘progress’ erased by a line of traffic, but the problem here is actually in our thinking.
Rather than trying to get from Point A to Point B as quickly as possible on every trip, we should recognize that, at best, such driving only saves us a few seconds or perhaps a minute or two. At worst, it can mean we never actually make it to Point B. In this light, aggressive driving is literally not worth it.
What does this mean for our teens? Learn from us and save yourself the trouble. If you don’t want to be late, leave a few minutes early instead of racing to make every single light and taking chances to save time.
The next time you’re out driving with your teen and you see someone drive through a red light or not wait for their turn at an intersection, ask your teen how much time that driver is actually saving and if it is worth the risks they create. Once your teen gets this message, driving safely is the only reasonable choice.
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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