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Speeding. We’ve all done it at some point in our driving life. We’ve gone 50 mph in a 40 mph zone, to “keep up with traffic.” We’ve opened it up on a rural road passing a stretch of farmland on a long road trip. Sometimes we just really need to get to work and everyone else is “driving too slow” or “doesn’t know how to drive,” so we hit the gas and weave through traffic.
It’s bad behavior and we shouldn’t pass it on to our kids. Remember that we’re role models, and when we do something in the car, our kids think its ok for them to repeat the behavior.
But despite our best intentions, our teens will probably speed at some point, too. Reckless speeding for racing and thrills is dangerous and hopefully you’ve told your teen it’s unacceptable. The danger is probably obvious to your teen, too, so it’s likely very rare behavior.
More commonly, teens drive too fast even when they’re driving slower than posted the speed limit, which can still be too fast in poor driving conditions like rain and snow. You know that when visibility is poor and roads are slippery, reducing your speed below the limit gives you more control over the car. That’s something you learned from experience –experience your teen doesn’t yet have.
You teen might follow too closely or pass other vehicles when it isn’t safe. When traffic is moving faster or slower than the posted speed limit, your experience lets you know how you should adjust to this traffic. Does your teen know how to adjust?
New teen drivers have yet to learn how their car will react in different traffic and weather situations. They often don’t know what is appropriate, and they don’t fully understand the risks.
When you’re out driving with your teen, expose them to different traffic flows and road conditions so they can gain experience. Let them experience being the only car on the road and, as they gain experience, one of many in heavier traffic. How does traffic adjust their response to the posted speed limit?
Take them out on a rainy or snowy day and let them learn how the car reacts with less traction and how reducing speed can help them better control the car in these conditions.
Remember that the skills you use in these situations are a result of years of experience, and your teen needs to acquire that experience by learning with you.
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.