When your teenager becomes a licensed driver, you’re likely feeling an array of emotions. One of those might be more prevalent than others, and that’s anxiety. You’re fully aware of the responsibility that comes with driving, but is your teen? Will she make good choices? Is he ready for this? The answer to all of those questions is: You hope so.
There are steps you can take to ensure that your new driver is prepared – from understanding the rules of the road to what to do in a worst-case scenario. Here are three tips for new teen drivers.
1. Distracted driving is more than just texting and driving. Texting and driving is one of the most common (and talked about) forms of distracted driving, but there are plenty more distractions that people need to remember. Whether it’s eating a sandwich or applying makeup, these all shift your focus away from the road.
Fiddling around with radio. Looking for the wallet that dropped. The list goes on and on. It’s also good to remind them that doing anything on their phone is a bad idea. It’s more than just texting – it’s sneaking a quick peek at an incoming text. It’s trying to plug in the address of the party while en route. It’s taking a picture of a hilarious personalized license plate. All of these are distracting, and none of them should be taking place inside of the car.
2. Let’s talk about cell phones … again. No matter how many times you reiterate that she cannot, under any circumstance, operate her phone while simultaneously operating a vehicle, as long as there’s a phone there, there’s a temptation. In case of an emergency (see #3), you want her to have a phone, so telling her no phone in the car while driving isn’t going to work. But telling her to turn off her phone while she’s driving is a solution. Eliminate the temptation altogether.
3. Know what to do (and not to do) if you are in an accident. You don’t want to think about your child being in a car accident. And he likely isn’t thinking about it either. But knowing what to do in case of the unexpected will help alleviate the fear of the unknown and the confusion of the unfamiliar.
The first step is to call you. After accessing whether they or others were injured in the car accident, the next thing to do is to start taking pictures with their phones. Start snapping photos of everything – the other cars, the damage to the vehicle, skid marks, the sky, debris – everything. Car accident evidence disappears. It’s up to you to preserve it with photographs.
You should also let him know that he shouldn’t be making statements to anyone without you there. It’s best to just wait. A simple “I’m sorry” could be construed as an admission of guilt. Even after you arrive, don’t make any statements to your or other’s insurance companies.
Even if injuries aren’t apparent, sometimes it’s worth the effort to go get checked out anyway. Some injuries remain below the surface while others can initially be covered up by shock. You won’t regret going and finding out all is well. You will certainly regret neglecting a potentially serious injury.
You and your teen may not always be on the same page. But staying safe while driving is something you both can agree on.