Depending on the kind of parent you are, you are probably looking forward to or dreading this moment. Your teen has been dropping not-so-subtle hints about cars, driving, and how their driving will somehow benefit the family.
For better or worse, it’s time to teach your teen how to drive a car. However, this is not a task you ought to take lightly. We don’t mean to scare anyone, but cars can become death traps if drivers don’t know what they are doing.
Every year, more than 2,400 teenagers die in car crashes. That’s not counting those who are seriously injured or maimed for life. Broaden the filters a bit, and some of the statistics can be morbid. In 2020, America saw over 5,250,837 motor accidents. From these, 38,824 people died. This is just from a single year.
In this article, we will explore a few key aspects to keep in mind when you start teaching your teen to drive.
Why Teaching Your Teenager to Drive Responsibly Is Crucial
Teenagers don’t particularly have a reputation for being responsible human beings. They tend not to have the brightest of friends and are easily influenced by emotions. “Come on, don’t be such a nerd. Drive a little faster.” Yes, that’s all it takes for most teenagers to throw safety to the wind.
Driver’s education courses do exist, but if your teen has an impulsive or rebellious streak, your influence will be important. While teenagers can be a handful, they aren’t completely oblivious. When they see that you are being serious, they should hopefully pay attention.
From the financial responsibility that comes with traffic violations to risk reduction behaviors, responsible driving can be critical. While you may help bail them out with your money in the present, they will eventually have to use their own money. Help them understand that driving responsibly doesn’t just save their lives, it also saves a lot of money.
Creating a Conducive Environment for Learning
Your first task should be establishing a non-judgmental atmosphere where your teen feels comfortable listening and asking questions. Try to avoid generic statements and advice. Your teen is used to getting advice every single day from multiple sources. It can be far more effective to use real-life examples and elicit responses from them.
Anyone with teenagers in the house knows how even a simple conversation can become a full-fledged debate. If you feel like your teen may start debating you, consider employing the Socratic method in your dialogue. It’s an effective technique that allows them to see reason and truth without feeling like they are arguing with you.
Remember, there is no point in getting angry and yelling at them. You are only going to make your teen resent you.
Convey the Importance of Safety via a Trip to an Auto Body Shop or Towing Service
You can consider starting with something more unconventional by visiting an auto repair shop. You can do so under the guise of showing them how to deal with crashes. For instance, how to negotiate or what to do after the car gets towed. However, you will be secretly achieving something else.
These businesses deal with countless crashes, many of them caused by teens. You can have them speak to the manager and listen to “practical tips” about what to do after a crash. According to Mizzoni’s Auto Body, getting through the stress and tension after a car crash can be extreme. In such a situation, it’s easy to forget to perform post-crash actions.
Mizzoni’s Auto Body recommends that you first ensure no one is hurt. However, if there are injuries, call an ambulance. Next, take photos, clear the road, and begin to exchange contact and insurance information with the other party. Lastly, if the car needs towing, get that done as well.
When your teen hears all this coming from someone with direct experience, it can be an eye-opener. Safety no longer becomes a buzzword that ‘mom and dad are bugging me about.’ Instead, it becomes something more real and tangible. Seeing T-boned cars, broken windshields, and other scary sights helps convey the importance of safety much more than words.
Bonus Tips To Encourage Responsible Driving
Sometimes, it may feel like you still cannot trust your teen. Not to worry; as a parent, this is often the case. As much as we’d like our children to behave responsibly, teens tend to find ways to rebel.
A lot of people will be skeptical about installing GPS-tracking devices that monitor driving behavior. However, if your teen has given you cause to be suspicious, you can be upfront with them.
Tell them that you are going to install a car tracker so that you know they aren’t driving in a risky manner. Yes, you can do that today. There are many devices that will detect and record rash driving, such as speeding, sudden braking, etc.
You could also go another route and create some sort of incentive for responsible driving. These could include extra driving privileges such as extended curfew hours and permission to use the car for longer trips and road trips. It could also be something small, like taking care of fuel and maintenance costs.
Lastly, don’t forget the value of plain old-fashioned appreciation and recognition. If your teen has shown themselves to be responsible, acknowledge them and give them a few words of praise.
Ultimately, your goal shouldn’t be to scare your teen into being safe. Yes, it can be helpful in the short term, but the goal is to ensure your teen understands safety organically.
Also, you will have to trust your teen eventually. Your parents probably had the same misgivings as you currently do, but you turned out fine (hopefully). Suppose you feel like you can’t trust your teen yet, at least trust that you have raised them right. Teens crave being treated like adults, and you may be surprised at the results if you do so.