According to a recent survey by Liberty Mutual Insurance and Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), 68% of teens have had a near crash and more than half of those surveyed have experienced more than one close call.
Bill remembers when his youngest son took the wheel for the first time. They made it through some local streets and drove back into their driveway. Bill went to get his wife who recalls seeing their son at the wheel of their family sedan and thinking it was like a scene from outer space. She knew their son would need to drive at some point but she had a hard time adjusting to the vision of her youngest son sitting at the wheel of an automobile. It just didn’t compute.
Tom recalls vividly the jolting experience that made him realize he and his wife had entered the “auto zone” with their daughters. Both had accidents … one week apart. Both rear-ended someone else … one week apart. Tom had anxiety attacks … one week apart and beyond. Yet, how fortunate they were that there were no injuries in either incident (except Dad’s internal trauma).
The driving experience
Driving is dangerous. Teens are four times more likely to get into accidents than older drivers. Nearly a quarter of the time, distracted driving is the cause.
In 2009, 3,000 teens died in car accidents and 350,000 were injured, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Not only does your teen have to master the rules of the road and coordinate the view with the operation of the vehicle and those rules, but he or she must watch for all the other crazy drivers on the road and anticipate what they might do, not to mention pedestrians.
Preparing your teen
What can we do to prepare our kids for the risks of the road?
Explain the operation of the vehicle.
Review, talk about and test the rules of the road with your teen.
There will be peer pressure to drive. Wait until your teen is ready. Don’t rush.
Give your teen experience driving in a variety of settings. Experience builds confidence.
Praise specific good driving habits and correct poor ones.
You can instruct your teen on safe driving, but ultimately it is up to your son or daughter to obey the laws of the road and your rules. You provide the instruction and the experience, but they are on their own (although there are now mobile apps that monitor the driving experience of your teen and where the vehicle is traveling). Teach your teen the necessary skills. Require lots of practice. And don’t release your teen until you are comfortable with the skills and ability to use good judgment. It’s a matter of life and death.
What model do you drive? Dad, your answer needs to be … a good one.