Lesson 16: Teach Your Teen: Don’t try to Make the Light

Yellow lights are a tricky thing on the road. Though they signal the need to slow down and wait for the coming red light, many drivers see them as a challenge to beat. It won’t take long for your teen to witness drivers speeding through intersections even after the light has turned red, all to save an extra minute or two on their trips. Unfortunately, this rush can put everyone on the road at risk, which is why your new driver has to learn an important lesson: don’t try to catch lights.  

Give Yourself Time

Drivers try to catch yellow lights because they worry about the time they’ll lose waiting at a red light. It can seem important in the moment, but, at best, it may only save seconds; at worst, it can result in a crash. Encourage your teen to scan upcoming intersections so he or she stays aware of changing lights, and to never feel pressured to rush through and catch them. It won’t always be easy, but the more you practice this with your teen, the better decisions he or she can make in the moment.

Be Patient

This can apply to other situations, as well, like your teen waiting to cross an intersection without a light or stop signs. A simple way to explain this is, will other drivers have to change lanes or brake suddenly as a result of something your teen does? If so, then it’s probably something your teen shouldn’t do. This patience can help prevent crashes and give your teen more time to think through the options. It’s easy to get worked up behind the wheel, so encourage your teen to be patient and always make smart decisions.  

Practice: Before your next practice drive, work with your teen to choose a destination and your ideal arrival time. Then, determine how long it will take to get there, and leave about five minutes early so your teen doesn’t feel rushed. Make this a habit on all practice drives and remind your teen that saving a few seconds is never worth the risk of a crash.


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