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As teens get experience behind the wheel, they may notice something strange: everyone on the road seems to be in a hurry.
Drivers regularly try to save a few seconds by racing through yellow lights, surpassing speed limits and cutting each other off without warning. These habits can make roads unpredictable and dangerous, especially if they rub off on impressionable new drivers. To help your teen avoid these mistakes and stay safe, we have some simple advice: in a stressful situation, give it a second.
Picture your teen waiting to cross a two-lane road. There’s no light, so your teen has to wait for traffic to clear before crossing. After the next car, it looks like there might be time to cross, though there’s a vehicle quickly coming from the other direction. If your teen doesn’t go now, it might be a long wait until the roads are empty.
If your teen followed the lead of a lot of other drivers, he or she might just go for it, speed across the street and ignore the honking of the cars being cut off. This could save a few precious seconds of your teen’s driving time but it could also result in a crash. Instead, encourage your teen to pause in these situations for an extra second of thought. This way, your teen can make a smart decision instead of acting impulsively.
In these types of situations, drivers are usually focused on themselves. “Could I make it across the road in time? Is there enough room for me to change lanes? Can I make this light before it changes?” These are important initial concerns but your teen should also think about the other people on the road. Picture your teen waiting at that two-lane road again. Sure, your teen could race across and be okay, but how would that affect the other drivers?
Will other drivers have to change lanes or slam on their brakes as a result of something your teen does? Then it’s probably something your teen shouldn’t do, even if it likely wouldn’t result in a crash. Since we can’t assume that other drivers are focused and ready to react, we should drive in a way that doesn’t require them to be.
Confusing or difficult situations will always come up on the road, so get your teen in the habit of thinking seriously about them. It’s not always easy to pause and wait – especially when the roads are crowded or there’s a line of antsy drivers behind you – but it will keep your teen from taking unnecessary risks.
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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