Lesson 11: The Benefits of Being Judgmental Behind the Wheel - National Safety Council

Lesson 11: The Benefits of Being Judgmental Behind the Wheel

Safe driving is all about having good judgment, since this will help your teen make good decisions behind the wheel. Whether it’s judging the gaps in traffic before changing lanes or judging other drivers for dangerous habits, here are some of the benefits to your teen being ‘judgey’ during driving lessons.

First Impressions

The stakes on the road are incredibly high, as one mistake can have consequences for every driver. That means your teen can’t always afford to give others the benefit of the doubt: to stay safe, your teen has to judge drivers based on their actions, and drive accordingly. If a driver is swerving in and out of the lane or tailgating your teen, the safest thing to do is slow down and move away from the vehicle. The driver might be impaired or distracted – or just a poor driver – but your teen shouldn’t wait around to find out.

Judge the Situation

Your teen also needs to learn to judge difficult roadway situations. Picture your teen trying to change lanes on a highway, with vehicles passing at different speeds and your teen’s exit coming up soon. It looks like there might be time to merge after the next vehicle passes, but should your teen commit and get into the other lane? Help your teen prepare for these decisions by learning how much room his or her vehicle needs and how fast the surrounding traffic is moving. Stressful situations like this can cloud our judgment, so remind your teen that, while planning ahead is the best option, sometimes missing an exit is better than making an unsafe choice.

Practice: On your next driving lesson, talk to your teen about the importance of regularly scanning the road. Your teen should keep an eye out for vehicles approaching from behind, as well as the speed of the traffic up ahead. This can get your teen some practice judging the gaps between vehicles, and help him or her understand how much time is available to merge or change lanes without impeding the flow of traffic. 

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