Are you worried about your teen driver? If so, you’re not alone. Many parents are afraid of what their children’s inexperience will mean for their time spent on the road. This is understandable. After all, we’re inundated with news of tragic car accidents and the sweeping harm that they can cause to victims and their families.
But instead of stressing over your child’s safety, you can decrease the risk that they’ll get in an accident by teaching them important driving skills. Perhaps one of the most important things that you can teach your child about driving is how to drive defensively.
Remember, your child doesn’t have much context when it comes to teaching them how to drive. You may have practiced with them, but they’re bound to encounter new and dangerous situations on the road at a time when you aren’t there. That’s why teaching them the following can be absolutely critical to their safety:
- Don’t trust other drivers: This is one of the biggest keys to successful defensive driving. Therefore, you should teach your child to be untrusting of other motorists and to expect them to act in unpredictable ways. This will cause your child to remain alert while driving and be prepared to take defensive action when needed.
- Keep a proper distance: A lot of young drivers end up involved in a rear-end collision simply because they’re following the vehicle in front of them too closely. A good rule of thumb is to teach your child to keep three seconds of distance between them and the lead vehicle. Your child can track this by picking a stationary object by the road and counting the seconds from when the lead vehicle passes it until they pass it.
- Avoid distraction: This sounds like an obvious thing to teach your child, and we’re sure that you’ve already done so. But it’s important to keep bringing the topic up to remind your child of the dangers associated with distracted driving. This will keep this safety tip fresh in their mind, which means they’ll probably be less likely to engage in distracting behavior while behind the wheel.
- Be aware: If your child can avoid distraction, then they should make sure that they’re aware of their surroundings. They should frequently check their mirrors and be on the lookout for pedestrians and bicyclists. By keeping their eyes moving and assessing the road several seconds ahead of them, your child can be better prepared to make defensive maneuvers if needed.
- Have an out: Another good thing to teach your child is to always have an alternative driving path when on the road. For example, if your child becomes boxed in by semi-trucks, then they should know that they need to find a safe path out of the situation in the event that one of the trucks changes lanes into them. This may include slowing down or finding a way to pull off onto the side of the road.
These are just some of the many tips that you can teach your child in hopes that they’ll become a strong defensive driver. By being proactive in educating your child, you can better ensure that they’ll avoid the kind of accident that leaves so many people with serious injuries and long-term physical, emotional, and financial harm.