Supervising your teen driver on his or her first few outings is key.

Teaching teens to drive the safe way

July 25th, 2016 by

Supervising your teen driver on his or her first few outings is key.

Even if school or extracurricular programs offer some instruction for teens learning to drive, parental guidance and early preparation is important. Through supervising them in their first few times on the road, you can make sure they are the right mix of comfortable, confident and cautious as they prepare to get their full driver's license. It can also be helpful in spotting any potentially bad habits your teen may have acquired – like texting or forgetting to signal – so that you can address the problems early, before they become ingrained.

Parents looking to teach their teenagers to drive safely should observe the following guidelines:

Show them the basics BEFORE they get behind the wheel
No one expects a teen to be a pro the first time they start driving, but it will be helpful to go over the basics with you behind the wheel before they take the reins. Show them how the accelerator, break pedal, steering wheel and signals work with them in the passenger seat. While you drive together, describe what you are doing out loud so that your teen can start making the connections in their own mind. 

Put together a plan
Before you and your teenager hit the open road, plan out what your objectives will be and your route. There are many free online driving plans available for parents, like the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia's TeenDrivingPlan that can give you a head start. Try starting out in an empty parking lot and letting them get the hang of basic maneuvers before graduating up to traveling (slowly) down quiet side streets.

Hit the open roads and put them to the true test 
Save highways and other congested, fast-moving roadways for when you feel confident in your teen driver's overall abilities – but don't skip higher traffic areas. Parents often focus on skills that teens are tested for while neglecting exposing kids to the high-pressure, more dangerous situations they will encounter every day as a fully licensed driver.

"Most people don't get killed parallel parking," Deborah Hersman, president of the National Safety Council, told the Wall Street Journal. "The most important things parents can teach teens are how to develop hazard recognition and judgment—making the left turns into oncoming traffic, how to merge on and off highways at high speed."

Be specific and stay focused on the road
Parents – due to anxiety or simply well-meaning clumsiness – may often struggle to communicate with their teens from the passenger seat. Give your teens clear, concise instruction well ahead of when it is needed, such as telling them a left turn will be coming up in a half mile. Avoid vague, sweeping statements like "you always drive too fast," and instead focus on the specifics like, "You are traveling over the current speed limit." Resist the urge to bring up nondriving topics like school or their social life. The goal is to teach your teens to remain alert and focused on the road. 

Go over the worst case scenarios
No parent wants their teen to get into a crash, which is why teaching them tactics to avoid sudden obstacles or correct in a skid is vital. Whether it's an animal suddenly darting into the roadway or hydroplaning on a wet night, making sure that your teen has the skills to stay calm and collected could save their life. Also be sure to go over proper procedure for if they do get in an accident, including the exchanging of insurance and contacting of police. 

Throughout your lessons, be sure to offer positive reinforcement and congratulations of a job well done. The key is to make your teens feel confident behind the wheel and ready for the challenges that may lie ahead. Car insurance in Saint John can help, so give Fundy Mutual a call today.