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It’s easy for parents to think that a teen only learns how to drive in the classroom and behind the wheel, but your teen picks up plenty of lessons from the passenger seat, too.
For years, your teen has watched you drive and some of your habits are likely to work their way into your teen’s own driving behavior. Parents, after all, are the number one influence on teen driving habits.
If you’re always a safe, responsible driver, this could be a good thing. Not only will your teen have witnessed positive driving habits, it’s more likely that he or she will respect the driving rules you set because you’re practicing what you preach.
But, if your teen has seen you engage in risky or dangerous driving behavior, like texting, speeding or driving aggressively, he or she may see those as acceptable driving behaviors.
Of course, most of us make mistakes and regret some of the choices we’ve made while behind the wheel. Maybe you sped through a yellow light when you should have stopped or maybe you drove fatigued and caught yourself losing focus in the middle of traffic. These are, unfortunately, common driver mistakes and your teen will detect them.
This is why it is crucial for you to always set a good driving example, even if your teen isn’t yet learning how to drive. Your driving habits will rub off on your teen and help him or her justify risky driving decisions.
For example, you might tell your teen to call you for a ride if he or she ever feels too tired to drive safely. But if you’re a regular drowsy driver, what’s stopping your teen from thinking he or she can do the same?
It’s one thing to point out the risky behaviors of other drivers and explain to your teen why what they’re doing is wrong. It’s quite another to engage in those behaviors yourself and expect your teen not to make the same mistakes.
So for your teen’s sake, and for the safety of every driver he or she will interact with on the road, make sure you are always setting a good example and driving the way you would want your teen to drive.
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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